LINCOLN, Neb. -- With games against No. 1 Michigan and No. 3 Indiana looming next week, Ohio State's Saturday night tipoff against Nebraska had all of makings of a trap game for the No. 11 Buckeyes. And midway through the first half of the battle between Ohio State (17-4, 7-2) and the Cornhuskers (11-12, 2-8), it looked like just that.
Sitting in second-to-last place in the Big Ten standings, Nebraska overcame a 12-3 start by the Buckeyes, using a 13-2 run of its own to take a 19-17 lead over OSU with six minutes remaining in the first half. The Huskers' advantage wouldn't last long, however, as a pair of free throws from Buckeyes' center Amir Williams jumpstarted a 13-0 OSU run to bump its lead back to double-digits, en route to a 63-56 victory at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Lenzelle Smith Jr. scored a season-high 21 points and Deshaun Thomas added 15 more for the Buckeyes, who used their big first half run to take a 32-23 lead into halftime.
Ohio State stretched its lead to as many as 15 points in the second half, but had to hold off a late run by Nebraska, who brought the Buckeyes' lead to just five points with fewer than a minute remaining in the game. Free throws from Smith and Aaron Craft helped seal the victory for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes made 39.1 percent of their shots against the Huskers, connecting on 18-of-46 attempts, while limiting Nebraska to a 36.5 percent success rate from the field. After not allowing Wisconsin to attempt a free throw on Tuesday, OSU held the Huskers to just five attempts on Saturday, while making 23 of its 28 attempts from the charity stripe.
David Rivers led Nebraska with 13 points against the Buckeyes, while Dylan Talley added 12 for the Huskers.
The Buckeyes' win on Saturday marked their fourth in as many games since losing at Michigan State two weeks ago. With the victory, Ohio State remains in second place in the Big Ten standings heading into Tuesday night's matchup with the top-ranked Wolverines.