It was definitely a lot to ask for Nebraska to upset two top-15 ranked teams in a span of just four days, and the task proved to be too much for the Huskers against No. 6 Ohio State on Saturday night.
After knocking off No. 11 Indiana on Wednesday, the Huskers came in against the Buckeyes finally riding some momentum. That quickly came to a halt in what ended up a 79-45 drubbing at the hands of the Buckeyes.
Despite leading after the first few minutes, NU simply couldn't hold up in a game that was pretty much decided shortly after halftime. The Huskers finished night with 27 turnovers, 25 fouls and just 13 total made field goals.
The 27 turnovers were Nebraska's most since Doc Sadler took over back in 2006, and the 34-point home loss was the worst in the history of the Devaney Center and NU's the largest margin of defeat on record.
"Obviously I'm very disappointed in our basketball team," Sadler said. "I can't say enough about us in the last six or seven ball games. We were playing pretty well, and then tonight's game, it was a poorly coached game on my part, it was a poorly prepared team, and it was obvious in the play. You're going to have to do everything almost perfect to have a chance to beat an Ohio State team if they're playing well, and I think they did play good… I mean, 27 turnovers - you're not going to beat anybody."
"It was just a very, very, very selfish exhibition of basketball, starting with myself by not having this team ready."
Nebraska actually got off to a great start through the first five minutes in front of its best home crowd of the season of 11,439, especially on the defensive end of the court.
By shutting down Ohio State's offense and contesting every single shot, the Huskers jumped out to an 8-5 lead on a pair of free throws by junior forward Brandon Ubel with 15:44 left in the first half.
Unfortunately, it was all down hill from there.
After Ubel's free throws, the Huskers went without a field goal for nearly eight minutes and didn't score a single point for six full minutes. While Ohio State struggled offensively in its own right, it was still able to go on a 13-0 run during NU's scoring drought to jump out to an 18-8 advantage.
A little later, the Buckeyes went on another 12-2 run in the final 3:19 of the first half, capped off by a bucket by forward Evan Ravenel as the buzzer sounded to send OSU into halftime with a 36-20 lead. The Huskers went the last 4:23 of the first half without a field goal.
Nebraska managed just 12 points in the final 15:44 of the half, shooting just 25 percent as a team from the floor and 1-of-9 from 3-point range. Ohio State on the other hand shot 44.4 percent, including four 3-pointers.
The second half didn't start off any better for NU, either. The Buckeyes kicked things off seven straight points to take their biggest lead yet at 43-20 and eventually went up by as much as 24 in the first five minutes of the half.
Counting the four-plus minutes Nebraska went without a basket to end the first half, the Huskers nearly went a total of nine full minutes without a field goal before senior guard Brandon Richardson made a lay-up with roughly 15:30 left in the game.
The rest of the game was essentially a formality from that point, as Nebraska never came within 20 points the rest of the way and trailed by as much as 34 when the final buzzer sounded. Things got so bad that fans started exiting the Devaney Center in masses with 11:28 still left on the game clock.
"I don't think we could have played any worse," Ubel said. "Twenty-seven turnovers - I don't think I've ever been on a team that's turned it over 27 times. You play that bad, with that many turnovers against a team like Ohio State, they're going to make you pay and that's what happened."
There weren't many bright spots for the Huskers in the final box score, as no player scored in double figures in the loss. Ubel had the best individual performance with eight points and eight rebounds, while senior point guard Bo Spencer added eight points as well.
All-American forward Jared Sullinger was his usual dominant self for Ohio State, as he scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half to go along with five rebounds. Guard William Buford scored a game-high 15 points and forward Deshaun Thomas also chipped in 14 for the Buckeyes, who shot 45 percent as a team for the game.
"I did not see this (coming) at all," Sadler said. "As I told the team, does it hurt? Yeah, it hurts. But when you know that you didn't do anything, when it hurts is when you know that you did everything you could possibly do, the kids do everything that can do, and you just come up a little bit short. You hurt for them. There's not anything that we did, from coaching to anything, that gave us a chance to win tonight."
The Huskers won't return to action again until Thursday when they travel to take on Iowa at 6 p.m.
Around the rim
***The Huskers fell to 1-4 against ranked teams this season, and have played five ranked opponents in their first eight conference games.
***The crowd of 11,439 was a season high, topping the previous best of 11,422 against Wisconsin on Dec. 27.
***Nebraska had 23 rebounds in the first half against the Buckeyes after totaling just 21 in the first meeting and out-rebounded Ohio State, 39-34.
***Nebraska previous season high for turnovers was 20 at Illinois on Jan. 7. The previous high under Sadler was 24 against Oklahoma State on March 8, 2008. The Huskers had combined for just 17 turnovers in the last two contests.
***The previous largest home defeat was a 30-point loss to Kansas on Feb 1, 2003.
***Spencer's eight points marked only the fourth time this season he has been held under double figures.
***Senior guard Brandon Richardson finished with two steals and now has 128 in his career, good for 10th in school history. That total matches the career total of both Jack Moore (1979-82) and Eric Johnson (1988-89).