Ohio State squandered an 11-point lead and fell to visiting Nebraska, 58-57, on Saturday night at Value City Arena.
With 11 seconds left in the game, Glynn Watson Jr. hit a running layup while being fouled and converted the ensuing free throw to give Nebraska (12-14, 6-8 Big Ten) a 58-57 lead.
“Just trying to get to the lane, trying to draw the foul or create for my teammates," Watson said of his game-winning play. "I saw the lane and I thought I had the big man (Trevor Thompson) beat and I just finished it, basically.”
Following a timeout, OSU forward Jae'Sean Tate was forced to shoot a long jumper that clanged off the rim after a designed play stalled, sealing the win for Nebraska.
“(Nebraska) did a pretty good job of defending it," Tate said of the Buckeyes' final offensive possession. "We ran it right, they just blew it up. It was supposed to be a handoff to Marc (Loving), let him come off and then I roll. There was a pin-down action on the other side with Kam (Williams), but Tai (Webster) blew it up. I picked up my dribble and I had to shoot it.
"That was on me. I have to keep my dribble in that situation and try to get a better shot or a drive going to the rim."
OSU (15-13, 5-10) led by as many as 11 points in the first half. Starting with Webster's three at the 4:29 mark, however, the Cornhuskers scored seven of the last nine points in the opening frame to trail OSU, 30-24, at halftime.
The Buckeyes still led by nine, 43-34, with 12:06 left in the game. Nebraska then went on a 9-0 run to knot it up at 43 apiece with 8:55 remaining. Four different Huskers contributed during the streak, which culminated with a three from Jack McVeigh.
With OSU ahead, 50-47, Tate corralled Williams' errant jumper and banked in a shot, all while in the air, to give the Buckeyes a 52-47 advantage with 4:12 left. Thompson's layup at the 3:37 mark expanded the Buckeyes' lead to seven.
The Huskers responded with five straight points - a three from Watson and a jump shot by McVeigh - to trim OSU's lead to 54-52 with 1:30 remaining. Then with 32 ticks on the clock, Loving hit a three to stretch the Buckeyes' lead to five.
Seconds later, McVeigh came right back with a triple from the corner to cut it to two again. The Huskers got the ball back immediately by drawing a jump ball on the Buckeyes' ensuing possession, thus setting up Watson's three-point play.
"That last little stretch wasn’t just a shot, it was sending them to the line, the jump ball, turning it over, not communicating," Tate explained. "When you do things like that back-to-back the outcome is going to be difficult to swallow.
"We got to be smarter, we beat ourselves tonight and we deserve it.”
OSU head coach Thad Matta was beside himself after the loss.
"I’m still just, honestly, trying to process everything that I just witnessed before my eyes," he said. "So I've got to kind of gather my composure and think this thing through.”
Tate led the Buckeyes with 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting. The junior also grabbed 10 rebounds to notch his fourth double-double of the season.
Webster knocked down 7 of 12 shots from the floor to pace the Cornhuskers with 17 points.
The Buckeyes committed 18 turnovers while the visitors were charged with 13. Nebraska had 23 points off OSU's miscues compared to the Scarlet and Gray's 15 off the Huskers' blunders.
OSU now hosts No. 11 Wisconsin (21-5, 10-3) Thursday night.
If you enjoyed this story, you will love Buckeye Sports Bulletin, the newspaper “For The Buckeye Fan Who Needs To Know More” since 1981. For four free trial issues of Buckeye Sports Bulletin with no obligation, click here.