Ohio State's freefall continues with 68-62 loss to Nebraska

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The Buckeyes' loss Monday is symptomatic of its current four-game losing streak and the season-long dilemma that had masked until then.

The Ohio State Buckeyes have now lost four games in a row, including a 68-62 road loss Monday to a Nebraska Cornhuskers team that had lost five games in a row (one of which was to Ohio State by 31 points). The Buckeyes showed a brief sign of life early in the second half, forcing Nebraska into turnovers on seven of its first nine possessions after halftime.

Defense is where the Buckeyes have made their money this season—figuratively speaking of course, because this is college basketball—but defense only carries a team so far. Yes, Ohio State took a two-point lead early in the second after the big blitz to start the half, but it couldn't build or sustain a lead because for all its vaunted D did to turn Nebraska away, the Buckeyes' offense wasn't holding up its end of the bargain.

LaQuinton Ross gave Ohio State a 46-45 lead with 5:55 to play. Over the next 2 1/2 minutes, the Buckeyes did not score a point, only then getting back on the board when Ross made 1 of 2 free throws with 3:22 to play. Ohio State's next made field goal was a Marc Loving three with 53 seconds to play. Even after the make, the Cornhuskers were up 61-54, and the students were all but already rushed onto the court.

In five conference games, Ohio State's defense—which carried it easily through its non-conference schedule—has an adjusted defensive efficiency of 97.6, a full 10 points higher (and change) than what it had done in non-conference play. The Buckeyes' weak non-conference schedule also could have done a few things: It could have portrayed Ohio State to be better than it actually is; or it simply could have left a talented team unprepared for the brutality of Big Ten play, especially with Michigan State, Iowa and Minnesota front-loading the schedule.

Either way, Monday's loss was more a legitimate byproduct of the team's recent struggles than an anomaly against a Nebraska team looking for revenge at home. The Buckeyes are troubled, and trouble will continue to find the team that struggles so to score points in a game in which scoring points is the only true objective.

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