This team lacks a lot of things. A consistent scorer. A dominant presence around the basket. Consistent effort. Defenses can sit in a zone with no threat of an outside shot or a penetrating drive. There is no urgency in the minds of anyone on the court save Aaron Craft (and to an extent, Shannon Scott). There are more things wrong than there are right. Mentally, this team is broken and can’t look to a Sullinger or Thomas to help them weather the adversity.
It’s bad enough that this team lacks confidence. It’s exacerbated by the fact that opponents are now emboldened to play with confidence themselves. The conference’s big bad wolf has been exposed. It’s really granny in the wolf’s clothing.
For the fourth time in as many games, Ohio State found itself in a dogfight with a team that, on paper, it should be able to manhandle. It had, in fact, manhandled this team by thirty one points a few short weeks ago. That Buckeye team is not this Buckeye team.
But there they were, down nine points at the half. Once again, poor shooting, sloppy defense and the inability to put the ball in the basket had landed Ohio State in a situation they have become all too familiar with.
Ohio State came out small (subbing Sam Thompson for Amir Williams, sliding LaQuinton Ross down to the 5) in an effort to change things up. The defense came strongly out of the block at the beginning of the second half and was able to eventually take a lead.
But Ohio State couldn’t pull away. The game went back and forth but Ohio State went cold. Lenzelle couldn’t hit a three. Other than another Sam Thompson highlight ally-oop, the second half devolved into the slow moving first half that gave OSU so much trouble.
With Ohio State trailing, Aaron Craft’s drive would result in a charge and the transformation was complete. There was nothing left. Nebraska would take a six point lead and never let it get any closer than that.
So here we are, in unfamilar territory. A four game losing streak. A real possibility of falling out of the top 25 (no matter how meaningless polls are, going from top five to out of the rankings means something). Nebraska was supposed to be the slumpbuster. Nebraska didn’t get the memo.
Let’s hope Illinois does.