The Ohio State Buckeyes (18-4, 9-0) survived the upset-minded Nebraska Cornhuskers (14-8, 5-4) 64-59 Monday evening at the Value City Arena.
Playing its fourth game in eight days, the Buckeyes struggled on both sides of the ball all night but made the shots and stops when it mattered the most to stay unbeaten in conference play.
Keita Bates-Diop again lead the Buckeyes in scoring 20 points. Jae’Sean Tate contributed 17 while both Kaleb Wesson and C.J. Jackson tallied 12 each.
James Palmer Jr. led Nebraska with 34 points, a Value City Arena record for an Ohio State opponent.
Nebraska tied the game at 46 all with 7:56 remaining on a 3-point shot from Palmer Jr.
The lead would change hands six times in the next four minutes, with Ohio State growing it’s lead to six points before a pair of Palmer Jr. free throws cut the lead to four points with just 2:19 remaining.
Jae’Sean Tate scored on a lay up with 1:02 remaining and Kaleb Wesson hit a pair of free throws late to grow the lead to eight points. Another Palmer Jr. three pointer would cut the lead to five with just twelve seconds remaining before Nebraska ran out of gas.
“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.”
Asked about the importance of tonight’s win, coach Chris Holtmann called it ‘critical.’ Grinding out and winning close, tough games like his team did tonight are critical and will go a long way in the Buckeyes surprising quest for a Big Ten title and a return to the NCAA tournament.
The Buckeyes play their second of four home games in a row on Thursday night as they host Penn State at 7:00pm.