Nebraska-Ohio St. Preview

William Buford is the lone senior on a young and promising Ohio

State team, so keeping him on the floor is essential.

After Buford struggled with foul trouble in his last game, a

visit from Nebraska presents the captain and his teammates with a

solid opportunity to bounce back from their second loss.

The sixth-ranked Buckeyes meet the Cornhuskers on Tuesday night,

trying to keep the newest member of the Big Ten winless in

conference play.

Ohio State dropped four spots in the AP poll this week following

a 74-70 loss at then-No. 13 Indiana on Saturday. Aaron Craft scored

16 points and Jared Sullinger added 15 points and nine rebounds for

the Buckeyes (13-2, 1-1), who struggled with foul trouble and had

17 turnovers.

Sullinger, Buford and DeShaun Thomas each finished with four

fouls as the teams combined for 48 free throws.

Buford, Ohio State’s leader with 16.1 points per game, was

forced to sit after he picked up his fourth foul with 16:18 left in

the game. He didn’t return until there was 7:38 to go and finished

with eight points, missing a potential go-ahead 3-pointer with

about 5 seconds to play.

“We’ve got to learn to play through that,” coach Thad Matta

said. “It’s one of those things you’ve got to learn, to play with

the foul trouble.”

Ohio State opened Big Ten play with an 87-54 win over

Northwestern on Wednesday – its fifth straight victory following a

78-67 loss at then-No. 13 Kansas on Dec. 10. Buford had a

career-high 28 points, nine rebounds and four assists in the win

over the Wildcats.

He and the Buckeyes will now look to extend the Cornhuskers’

winless start in conference play.

A visit to Columbus continues a tough initiation into the Big

Ten for Nebraska (8-5, 0-2), which has lost 64-40 to then-No. 11

Wisconsin and 68-55 to then-No. 16 Michigan State at home.

After shooting 30.6 percent against the Badgers, the Cornhuskers

connected on 36.0 percent of their shots versus the Spartans on

Saturday.

Nebraska actually led by one at halftime, but Michigan State

opened the second half on a 20-4 run to take a 49-34 lead with

13:38 left. The Cornhuskers got as close as three but shot 30.8

percent after the break.

Despite his team’s struggles in its new conference, coach Doc

Sadler thinks victories will come.

“As long as we continue to compete, we’re going to have some

shots at it,” Sadler said. “We have to figure out how to finish it

off. You’re at home with a four- or five-point deficit last 4-5

minutes, you have to figure out how to win it. We had some

opportunities. We just didn’t capitalize.”

Nebraska was without 6-foot-11 center Jorge Brian Diaz (sore

feet) for a fourth straight game and guard Dylan Talley (thigh

bruise).

It’s not certain if either will return Tuesday, and their

absences have further hurt an offense averaging 63.8 points – 11th

among the 12 Big Ten teams.

Leading scorer Bo Spencer, averaging 15.1 points on 38.3 percent

shooting, has scored 20 in the first two conference games while

shooting 6 of 27 (22.2 percent).

Ohio State leads the all-time series 4-2, winning the last

three. The Buckeyes posted an 85-74 victory in the 1989 NIT in the

last meeting.