The Nebraska basketball team looks to snap a five-game losing streak and pick up its first win over a ranked team this season, as the Huskers welcome No. 11 Ohio State to Pinnacle Bank Arena on Monday, Jan. 20.
Last time out…Despite Leslee Smith’s third double-double of the season, the Huskers fell at No. 3 Ohio State, 84-53. Smith had 11 points and 10 rebounds in his first start of the season, but a 7-0 Buckeye run to end the first half proved costly, as Nebraska fell to 8-6 on the season and 0-2 in Big Ten play.
Scouting Ohio State
Under Thad Matta, Ohio State comes into Thursday’s game at Minnesota with a 15-2 record and a No. 11 national ranking. Matta, who served as an assistant to former Nebraska Coach Barry Collier at Butler, is in his 10th season at OSU and has guided the Buckeyes to seven NCAA appearances, including an NCAA runner-up finish in 2007 and a Final Four appearance in 2012. OSU returned four starters from a team that won 29 games and reached the Elite Eight in 2012-13.
Ohio State had won its first 15 games before suffering a 72-68 loss at No. 4 Michigan State on Jan. 7, and then falling at home to No. 20 Iowa, 84-74, on Jan. 12. OSU has been stout defensively, ranking sixth nationally in scoring defense (57.9 ppg) and allowing two teams to reach 70 points this season. OSU is also in the top 15 in both field goal percentage defense (38.7 percent) and 3-point defense (26.6 percent). Iowa is the only team that has scored 70 points in regulation on the Buckeyes this season.
The Buckeyes are a balanced team with four players averaging over nine points per game and nine players who average double-figure minutes. As a team, the Buckeyes are among the Big Ten leaders in field goal percentage (.462) and lead the conference in turnover margin at +3.7 per game. Junior forward LaQuinton Ross averages a team-high 14.1 points per game and shoots 41 percent from 3-point range, while senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr., averages 12.0 points per game and is second on the team with 27 3-pointers. All-Big Ten selection Aaron Craft is a four-year starter at point guard who averages 9.0 points, 5.0 assists and a Big Ten-leading 2.4 steals per game. Shannon Scott is third in the Big Ten with 2.2 steals per game and also dishes out nearly four assists per outing.