Columbus, Ohio – Playing its fourth game in eight days, No. 13 Ohio State seemed vulnerable Monday night. Facing a surprising Nebraska team that upset Michigan last week, the Buckeyes were at risk of letting one slip away.
But that didn’t happen. Keita Bates-Diop, the Big Ten’s top scorer, had 14 of his 20 points in the second half and the surging Buckeyes ground out a 64-59 win over the Cornhuskers for their ninth straight conference victory.
Nebraska (14-8, 5-4 Big Ten), fresh off a 20-point win over then-No. 23 Michigan on Thursday, tied it at 46 with 7:56 left with a 3-pointer from James Palmer Jr., who finished with a career-high 34 points.
The lead changed six times in the next four minutes. A pair of foul shots by Palmer cut Ohio State’s lead to four with 2:19 remaining, but the Cornhuskers couldn’t pull any closer.
Jae’Sean Tate put the Buckeyes (18-4, 9-0 Big Ten) up by six with a layup with 1:02 left, and a pair of foul shots by Kaleb Wesson stretched it to eight. Palmer hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left, but Nebraska ran out of time.
“I think mentally we just stayed together,” said Tate, who had 17 points. “There were times you could see we struggled. In the first half, we were getting a little frustrated, but I think we did a great job in the second half, especially later on, coming together and staying together.”
Neither team lit up the scoreboard. Ohio State shot 44 percent to Nebraska’s 39 percent.
The secret is out about Bates-Diop, which means he is regularly double-teamed now. That was the case Monday, when the Cornhuskers did a good job of neutralizing him in the first half. Later in the game his teammates figured out how to get him the ball.
“They were doubling me pretty much everywhere,” he said. “Every time I drove someone was coming. Besides slipping screens and just moving around a little bit more with the ball, my teammates found me. It was mostly just layups to the basket.”
More Big Ten
(At) Indiana 71, Maryland 68: Juwan Morgan scored 10 of his 25 during Indiana’s decisive late run, leading the Hoosiers (12-8, 5-3) past the Terrapins (15-7, 4-5). Kevin Huerter had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Maryland.
(At) TCU 82, No. 7 West Virginia 73: Desmond Bane scored eight of his 15 points in just over a minute early in the second half, and TCU (15-5, 3-5 Big 12) got their first home win over a Top 10 team in nearly five years.
(At) Virginia Tech 80, No. 10 North Carolina 69: Justin Robinson scored 19 points and Virginia Tech (14-6, 3-4 ACC) pulled away from North Carolina (16-5, 5-3).