Columbus, OH – Deshaun Thomas scored 22 points and Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 17 as No. 8 Ohio State breezed to a 70-44 victory over Nebraska in its Big Ten opener from Value City Arena.
Smith knocked down 6-of-9 field goal attempts -- including an outstanding 5- of-7 from 3-point range -- and Thomas added eight rebounds for Ohio State (11-2, 1-0 Big Ten). The Buckeyes also locked down on the defensive end, limiting the Cornhuskers to a 30.4 percent success rate from the field on the evening.
"The defense was very effective," said Buckeyes head coach Thad Matta. "The guys were communicating well. Nebraska ran a lot of different things in the first half and we were able to pick up on them over the course of the game."
Ray Gallegos was the lone Nebraska player in double figures, finishing with 14 points despite making good on only 4-of-18 shots. Shavon Shields pulled down nine rebounds for the Huskers (9-5, 0-1).
"We were something like 11-for-35 on 2 [pointers] and that's just ineffective basketball," Nebraska head coach Tim Miles remarked. "I thought [Ohio State] did a nice job. We couldn't get a tally going inside the paint at all."
The Buckeyes had their defense working right from the outset, causing Nebraska to miss seven of its first eight shots in building an 11-3 lead five minutes in. The margin would soon reach double digits, as Thomas scored inside following a Smith 3-pointer to put Ohio State up by an 18-7 count just past the midway stage of the first half.
Gallegos buried a pair of triples to spark an 8-2 Nebraska run that cut the deficit to five, but the Buckeyes would put together a 16-2 tear over the final 6 1/2 minutes of the period to take a comfortable 36-17 advantage into the intermission.
Thomas netted seven points during that spurt and finished the half with 18 on 8-of-12 shooting.
Ohio State continued to roll after the break, with Smith connecting on two more treys to jump-start a 10-2 sequence that extended the lead to 46-19 with just three minutes elapsed in the frame.
Nebraska got the differential down to 21 on a pair of Gallegos buckets from beyond the arc within a span of 33 seconds, making the score 50-29 with 13:37 left. The Buckeyes countered with seven consecutive points, however, and were never threatened thereafter.
Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft was held scoreless but recorded eight assists to move into fifth place on the Buckeyes' career list in that category (423), and also came up with three steals to pass David Lighty for second place all-time in school history with 193 thefts ... Nebraska center Andre Almeida left the contest with a left ankle injury during the first half and did not return ... The Cornhuskers have now lost 24 straight games on the road against top 10 opponents since a 74-69 win over No. 7 Iowa State on Feb. 22, 1997 ... Nebraska has been held under 40 percent shooting in all five of its losses this season.