The struggles on the road continue for the Ohio State basketball team after falling to Nebraska last night 83-69. A large part as to why the Buckeyes continued their road losing streak was due to a mediocre defensive effort on the perimeter.
Nebraska shot the lights out against Ohio State last night. As a team, they connected on 14 three-pointers in 27 attempts at a 51.9% rate. Through five home Big Ten games for Nebraska this season, they have shot less than 40% as a team just once. The Cornhuskers were at home where they're supposed to shoot the ball well, and they certainly did.
A key for the Ohio State basketball team coming into this game was to run Nebraska off the three and make them drivers of the basketball. Nebraska has one of the best offenses in the Big Ten and ranks 25th in offensive efficiency according to KenPom. They love to shoot a ton of threes, and that's what makes their offense so electric.
I will give the Buckeyes props for something on defense, and that is they did a good job forcing someone other than Keisei Tominaga to beat them. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened. Forward Rienk Mast went for 34 points and 10 rebounds and made six threes on eight tries. C.J. Wilcher also chipped in 16 points and went 4-7 from three off the bench.
The Ohio State basketball team started out defending the three well, and that's why they had an early lead. Then towards the end of the first half, Nebraska went on their run making four threes in six possessions to grab the lead before halftime and didn't look back.
The Buckeyes needed to do a better job at pressuring on the perimeter and causing the Nebraska offense to funnel into the paint where Felix Okpara was waiting. He's a vital piece to the defense as a rim protector and can be very effective in games against teams that shoot a lot of threes as long as they get run off the line.
In order to win games on the road and increase a tournament resume, you must take away the opposing team's strengths. Ohio State did not do that last night at Nebraska and failed to earn a Quad-1 win. The Buckeyes' window of opportunity for resume-boosting wins is closing quickly, and if efforts on the defensive end don't change they will be on the outside looking in just like last season.
The Ohio State basketball team has another road test on Saturday when they take on Northwestern. The perimeter defense will be tested again facing one of the best guards in the conference in Boo Buie. We'll find out soon enough if any adjustments defensively have been made.