For Ohio State, one is simply not enough.
One win, that is, as the Buckeyes finally got one in Big Ten play with a 72-67 victory over Michigan State on Sunday. Ohio State knows it needs more and it needs those soon if it wants to get back into the conversation as one of the conference’s tough outs.
The next chance for the Buckeyes comes Wednesday night at Nebraska. It’s Ohio State’s fourth road game out of six to open the Big Ten season, but it’s perhaps the most important of the year to date since this is a team looking for a turnaround.
“Winning at Ohio State is the standard and it definitely was good to get a win the other day but we realize we still have a lot of work to do,” junior center Trevor Thompson said Tuesday. “We still have to continue to keep playing better, keep getting better as a team. I just think that with that win it kind of shows us that when we compete good things will happen.”
Compete was a word mentioned multiple times Tuesday by Thompson, backup point guard C.J. Jackson and Ohio State head coach Thad Matta as all three met with reporters prior to practice.
The Buckeyes looked like a team that was tired of losing in Sunday’s win over Michigan State and even though Ohio State was “far from perfect,” as Matta put it, a lot of mistakes were made up for by simply playing hard.
That type of effort is not something that can change after just one win, though. The Buckeyes have to remember there is still plenty of work to be done.
“You can’t be comfortable in this position,” Matta said. “I think we know that we’re a team that has to work extremely hard and that’s what we’re going to do and there’s going to be no other way to do it.”
After a brutal stretch to open Big Ten play, Ohio State has a much more manageable upcoming slate with some very winnable games. After Wednesday’s game at Nebraska, the Buckeyes play Northwestern, Minnesota and Iowa with the first two coming at home.
But none of that really matters, though, if Ohio State can’t knock off the Huskers. Nebraska started Big Ten play 3–0 but dropped its last two so it will certainly be starving for a win. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes haven’t won a game outside of Columbus since their season-opener.
Ohio State is hoping for a turnaround and now that it finally has that first Big Ten win under its belt, the next step comes Wednesday night in Lincoln.
“We’re all players, we have competitive spirit and we can’t really hang our heads on the past and can’t control the games that we’ve already lost so it’s kind of like we’re just moving forward,” Jackson said. “The season is far from over so we’re just going to compete every day and try to win every game from this point on.”