Buckeyes fall to Nebraska 68-62, lose fourth straight
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — After Nebraska’s previous home game, Terran Petteway stood in front of his bench, hands over his head with a pained look on his face.
He wore an expression of pure joy Monday night as the buzzer sounded and the student section rushed the court to celebrate the Cornhuskers’ 68-62 upset of No. 17 Ohio State. It was the Buckeyes’ fourth straight loss after a 15-0 start.
Petteway scored seven points in the final 2:22 and had 13 of his 18 in the second half to help the Huskers end a five-game losing streak and give coach Tim Miles his biggest win in two seasons in Lincoln.
"The fans are the reason. You couldn’t even hear the whistle at one point," Petteway said. "The student section was filled 90 minutes before the game. I knew it was going to be a good night."
The finish was much different than the last game at Pinnacle Bank Arena two weeks ago. That night Petteway’s driving layup bounced off the rim on the Huskers’ last possession, and they lost by a point to Michigan.
The Huskers (9-8, 1-5 Big Ten) are 8-1 at their new home.
"I swear I’ve never stood in this building and thought we were going to lose a game so far," Miles said.
The Buckeyes (15-4, 2-4) beat Nebraska by 31 points on Jan. 4 in Columbus and haven’t won since. The four-game losing streak is their longest since 2007-08.
"It’s like there’s this black cloud over us," said point guard Aaron Craft, who committed four turnovers and has 19 in the last four games. "We have to find a way to get it off."
Shavon Shields scored 18 points and had nine rebounds to break out of a sophomore slump. Deverell Biggs added 11 points for the Huskers.
We’re not the same team that won 15 in a row
The Huskers survived after squandering a 14-point first-half lead and won against a ranked opponent for the first time in 16 games. They used a 16-5 run late in the second half to regain control and made 13 of their last 16 free throws to hold off the Buckeyes.
Craft scored 12 points, LaQuinton Ross added 11 and Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 10 for the Buckeyes.
"When something doesn’t go well, we’re not able to answer the call," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "We don’t have the mental toughness to make the next play. We’re clinging on the mistakes. We’ve got to play forward."
Nebraska overcame 17 turnovers — eight by Petteway — and a couple of lulls to beat a Top 25 opponent for the first time January 2012. The Huskers committed turnovers on seven of their first nine possessions of the second half and went through a 6-minute scoring drought in the middle of the half before they closed strong.
Ross’ finger roll gave Ohio State its last lead at 46-45. The Huskers took the lead for good when Biggs stole the ball from Craft and went in for a layup with 4:29 to play.
David Rivers’ two free throws made it a 10-point game, and the Buckeyes couldn’t threaten again because of Nebraska’s strong free throw shooting at the end.
"I was happy for our guys to be a part of it," Miles said. "There’s been a lot of hard work. There’s been a lot of frustration. It’s the second year, and there’s not necessarily going to be incremental improvement. You can’t guarantee that. There are so many newcomers and we’re relatively young. We’re going to try to win as many games as we can."
Nebraska led 34-25 after outscoring the Buckeyes 16-6 over the last 7:24 of the first half. Ohio State went 6 minutes without a field goal after Amedeo Della Valle’s 3-pointer gave his team a 19-18 lead.
Shields scored seven points during the spurt, and Leslee Smith finished it when he swiped the ball from Amir Williams at midcourt and went in for a layup.
Ohio State got back into the game by outscoring the Huskers 18-2 over halftime, tying it and taking a 38-36 lead on layups by Craft.
"We’re not the same team that won 15 in a row," Craft said. "We have to go back and find that."