COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Nebraska men’s basketball team was outscored in the first half Wednesday night at Ohio State by one player.
The second half wasn’t much better, meaning the No. 8 Buckeyes coasted to a 70-44 victory, their 62nd straight at home against an unranked opponent.
Ohio State wing Deshaun Thomas, the Big Ten scoring leader at 19.8 points a game, had 18 at halftime — one more than the Huskers, who trailed 36-17 after 20 minutes.
When OSU (11-2, 1-0) started the second half on a 10-2 run to go up 46-19, any hopes for Nebraska (9-5, 0-1) vanished.
NU coach Tim Miles called it a disappointing loss because of lack of effort.
“You play offense, you play defense and then you have the hustle game,” he said. “I didn’t think we won any of them, and that’s what makes me mad.
“By God, we need to win the hustle game. We weren’t trying hard enough or playing physical enough to come up with the ball or dive on the floor for loose balls. We attempted to take like two charges, and that should be seven or eight.”
The Huskers not only lost a game, they lost senior center Andre Almeida for an undetermined time with an injury. The 6-foot-11, 340-pounder twisted his right ankle and foot when he landed on OSU center Amir Williams’ foot after jumping for a rebound.
Almeida left the game for good with 4:21 to go in the first half and NU down 29-17. He returned to the bench midway through the second half wearing an orthopedic boot.
“It’s a significant sprain,” Miles said. “I don’t know if it’s an ankle sprain or a foot sprain. But on a big guy like that, it’s going to take a bit of time.”
For Ohio State, Thomas finished with 22 points and eight rebounds, while fellow wing Lenzelle Smith Jr. added 17 points and six rebounds. The Buckeyes shot 49.2 percent.
Nebraska shot just 30.4 percent from the field. The starting five hit 22.2 percent. Guard Ray Gallegos was the only Husker in double figures with 14 points, but he missed 14 of 18 shots. NU also was outrebounded 41-29.
Miles didn’t like the ugly statistics, but said he won’t stand for effort issues.
“I can handle a losing outcome,” he said. “That doesn’t make us a losing program or losers. But it’s the way you go about your business. I was disappointed we got outhustled. That is unacceptable.”
Nebraska’s next game is at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at home against Wisconsin. The Badgers (9-4) were a preseason Top 25 team, but have struggled to replace point guard Josh Gasser (season-ending knee injury).
“I think it’s a winnable game,” Miles said.