Nebraska ran into a hot-shooting Ohio State team Friday night, as the No. 10 Buckeyes posted a 71-50 win over the Huskers in the Big Ten quarterfinals at the United Center.
Ohio State (24-7) shot 59 percent on the night, including 77 percent in the second half, to break open a 28-23 halftime lead, as the second-seeded Buckeyes advanced to Saturday’s semifinals.
OSU took control in the opening minutes of the second half, using an 11-0 run in the first four minutes to build a 39-23 lead. Sam Thompson scored seven of his career-high 19 points in the spurt, as he went 8-of-9 shooting on the night, including three 3-pointers. In all, the Buckeyes hit 11 of their first 12 shots from the floor in the second half in building a 26-point lead.
Nebraska (15-18) made one last run, using a 15-3 spurt to pull within 59-45 after a Dylan Talley basket with 5:23 left, but OSU scored seven of the next nine points to push the lead back to 19 after a Deshaun Thomas’ 3-pointer with 3:58 left which effectively ended the Huskers’ comeback hopes.
Thompson and Thomas led OSU with 19 points each, while OSU held Nebraska (15-18) to 41 percent shooting and forced 15 Husker turnovers.
Brandon Ubel led Nebraska with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting and seven rebounds, while freshman Shavon Shields added 14 points and five rebounds, as the Huskers shot just 38 percent in the second half, including 1-of-10 from 3-point range.
It was the Huskers’ hot shooting that stunned the United Center crowd, as Nebraska hit six of its first 10 shots to silence the pro-Buckeye crowd. Nebraska used a 15-3 spurt, including nine straight points, to build a 15-6 advantage
OSU came right back, running off 12 straight points behind the play of guards Shannon Scott and Aaron Craft, who accounted for 10 consecutive Buckeye points, as OSU took an 18-15 lead after a pair of Thomas free throws. OSU took advantage of turnovers, converting eight Husker miscues into nine first-half points.
Shields ended the Huskers’ drought with a basket and NU remained in striking distance the rest of the half. Nebraska cut the OSU lead to 24-23 after a Ubel basket and it was a two-point game until OSU’s final possession of the half when Thomas converted three straight free throws with 13 seconds left to make it 28-25 at the break.