Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-5, 0-2) at Ohio State Buckeyes (7-2, 2-1)
Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020 – 5:30 p.m.
Value City Arena
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Internet: FOX Sports App
1. Find a way to finish
Nebraska has found multiple ways to lose this season, but the one common theme has been the Huskers’ inability to close games out when the game is on the line.
For the first 20-30 minutes, NU has shown it could play with anyone on its schedule thus far. But whether it be prolonged scoring droughts, a rash of turnovers, or defensive lapses, Nebraska has been its own biggest hurdle through the first nine contests.
The best way for the Huskers to address this issue is to find a way to put together a full 40 minutes – or at least close to it – and finish off a game when the pressure is on down the stretch.
Ohio State is 7-2 but has been a mixed bag against high-major competition. After erasing a 16-point deficit in a win over Rutgers, the Buckeyes then missed eight of their final 10 shots to blow a seven-point lead with seven minutes left in a 71-70 loss to Northwestern.
The Huskers have proven they can play with just about any team in the Big Ten for most of the game. But until they can finish the job when it counts, the results thus far will only continue.
2. Play with efficiency
Ohio State doesn’t have the gaudy offensive numbers or star power as some teams Nebraska will face this season, but the Buckeyes are a team that rarely beat themselves.
Ranking eighth nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions) at 114.0 and ninth in turnover percentage at 14.1, OSU plays about as clean with the basketball as it gets.
The Huskers, on the other hand, do not. They rank 149th in offensive efficiency (101.6), 231st in effective field goal percentage (47.2), and no better than 206th in two-point, three-point, and free-throw percentage.
Ohio State is fundamentally sound and makes the most out of its opportunities with the ball. Nebraska has had to try and beat teams through a high volume of shots.
Efficiency will be imperative tonight for NU.
3. Get to the line, make your free throws
One relatively easy way Nebraska could give itself a better chance in Big Ten play is by taking advantage of the “free” points at the charity stripe.
That, however, has proven far more difficult for the Huskers than it should be.
Shooting just 64.4 percent as a team, NU ranks 274th nationally in free-throw percentage this season. What’s worse, that has come off of 208 attempts, an average of 23 per game.
With 134 makes this year, Nebraska has missed an average of 8.2 free throws per game.
This is another area in which, conversely, Ohio State has thrived. The Buckeyes rank 31st nationally with a team free-throw percentage of 77.1 and 39th with a free-throw rate (FT attempts divided by FG attempts).
Nebraska can’t afford to keep leaving points on the floor as it has at the line, but that’s especially true in a game like this where free throws could easily be the difference between a win and a loss.
Ohio State 74, Nebraska 66
Robin’s season record: 7-2
vs. the spread: 7-2
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