After all, not only was Nebraska getting the No. 6 Buckeyes on its home court this time but the team has also since welcomed back two starters that missed the first game while recovering from injuries.
But when the final seconds ticked off the clock in Ohio State's 79-44 at Nebraska Saturday night, the different situation led to the exact same result. Again, it was the Buckeyes (17-3, 5-2 Big Ten) who triumphed in dominant fashion.
Ohio State got the answer to two critical questions it faced before the game – can it win on the road in the Big Ten and will senior William Buford, who had been struggling in the games leading into the road contest, bounce back? The answer was yes to both.
Though Nebraska's upset over No. 11 Indiana earlier in the week made it seem as if the Huskers were getting back on track, the team turned it over 25 times, aiding the Buckeyes in a much-needed confidence boost away from Value City Arena.
Buford led three Ohio State double-figure scorers with 15 points, including three makes from beyond the arc, to put together the best all-around game he's had in weeks. Perhaps the most telling stat of the night for Buford was how he took care of the basketball, committing no turnovers in 27 minutes on the floor.
Sophomores Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas both had 14 points, helping the Buckeyes overcome a Nebraska (10-9, 2-6) team that had won its previous two games on its home floor, including the impressive win over the Hoosiers.
Despite a fast start by Nebraska, Ohio State used 13-0 and 10-0 runs to mount a 16-point halftime lead. The Buckeyes put the Huskers away early in the second half by scoring the first five points after closing the first half with a 12-2 run.
Sullinger spent the last four minutes of the first half on the bench after picking up two fouls and had only four points before the break. His replacement, redshirt junior Evan Ravenel, sparked the Buckeyes to the run to close out the half and made a baseline hook shot as the buzzer sounded to close out the game's first 20 minutes.
Ravenel's shot was set up by sophomore point guard Aaron Craft, who caught the inbounds pass with 6.6 seconds, weaved through the Nebraska press with some clever dribbling, and found the big man under the hoop unattended. Ravenel finished the game with seven points and five rebounds, two of which came on the offensive end of the floor.
Everyone on Ohio State's active roster got into the game, including freshman LaQuinton Ross. Though Ross chucked up an ill-advised three early in his time he rebounded shortly after by knocking down a long ball from the corner after an assistant from freshman point guard Shannon Scott.
After scoring 28 points against Indiana in the Buckeyes' last game, Lenzelle Smith Jr. was held to only two points. Jordan Sibert, who has seen his minutes decrease in the recent weeks, scored six points off the bench but was only 1-of-6 from the floor.
The Buckeyes next game is home against Penn State on Wednesday, starting a stretch in the schedule where Ohio State plays four of its next five games on its home floor.