Ohio St.-Nebraska Preview

The Associated Press

Ohio State made easy work of Nebraska on Jan. 3, though the Cornhuskers may be more prepared this time around.

The sixth-ranked Buckeyes look to hold off upset-minded Nebraska on Saturday night in their first trip to Lincoln in more than 24 years.

Ohio State (16-3, 4-2 Big Ten) dominated Nebraska in nearly every aspect 2 1/2 weeks ago, outbrebounding the Cornhuskers 44-21 in a 71-40 home victory.

Jared Sullinger scored 19 points and added 12 rebounds in that contest, helping the Buckeyes overcome a loss to Indiana days earlier.

Sullinger had 16 points and nine rebounds last Saturday as Ohio State avenged that defeat with an 80-63 win over the then-No. 7 Hoosiers after the Buckeyes fell at Illinois 79-74 on Jan. 10.

Lenzelle Smith Jr. hit 10 of 12 shots and scored a career-high 28 points after entering the game averaging only 5.2 points per game.

''Throughout the game I just saw my man leave me every single time,'' Smith said. ''The first game (against Indiana), I was complaining about that to my team. This game we capitalized that and we were able to get some easy buckets.''

Smith played 21 minutes and went 1 for 2 while scoring five points in the first meeting against Nebraska, which may want to take notice of his increased offensive role.

''That's kind of like a coach's dream when you see it going in there,'' coach Thad Matta said of Smith's shooting. ''Because you're making them pay for the adjustment that they're making. He did a tremendous job with that.''

The Huskers (10-8, 2-5) are coming off their own victory over Indiana, upsetting No. 11 Indiana 70-69 on their home floor Wednesday.

Bo Spencer - 10 points in the first meeting with Ohio State - scored 23 to help Nebraska rally from a 13-point deficit in the second half to earn its biggest win since joining the Big Ten.

Jorge Brian Diaz hit two free throws with 11 seconds remaining.

''We knew Indiana and Ohio State (Saturday) were big games for protecting our home court,'' Spencer said. ''If we wanted to go on a run in the league, we needed to do it (now).''

The Cornhuskers' inaugural season in the conference has been a tough transition from the Big 12, though coach Doc Sadler hopes the upset of Indiana can get them rolling.

Nebraska hasn't beaten back-to-back ranked teams since knocking off No. 24 Kansas State and No. 22 Texas A&M on Feb. 20 and 23, 2008, respectively.

''It was a good win guys, it was a great win,'' Sadler said. ''What can you say? We needed it and needed it bad.''

The Huskers had lost five of their previous six games, scoring 45 points or less three times. They rank last in the Big Ten in scoring (61.6 points per game), and they had more turnovers (17) than field goals (16) in the first meeting with the Buckeyes.

Ohio State is second in the conference, averaging 77.9 points.

Nebraska, though, has played better after missing Diaz and Dylan Talley for its first three conference games. The Huskers are scoring 59.8 points per game since they returned to the lineup from injuries Jan. 7 against Illinois, compared to 45.0 in conference without them.

Each missed the first meeting against Ohio State.

The Buckeyes last visited Nebraska on Dec. 5, 1987, winning 72-63.

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