LINCOLN, Neb. — The free fall continues for No. 17 Ohio State.
Nebraska capitalized on the Buckeyes’ cold shooting late in Monday night’s game for a 68-62 upset that sent them to their fourth straight loss.
“It’s like there’s this black cloud over us,” point guard Aaron Craft said. “We have to find a way to get it off.”
Ohio State overcame a 14-point first-half deficit and led 46-45 after LaQuinton Ross scored with 5:56 to play. But the Buckeyes missed six of their next seven shots and committed four turnovers the rest of the way.
The Buckeyes (15-4, 2-4 Big Ten) have lost four straight for the first time since 2007-08.
“When something doesn’t go well, we’re not able to answer the call,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “We don’t have the mental toughness to make the next play. We’re clinging on the mistakes. We’ve got to play forward.”
Terran Petteway scored seven points in the final 2:22 and had 13 of his 18 in the second half to help the Cornhuskers end a five-game losing streak and give coach Tim Miles his biggest win in two seasons in Lincoln. Nebraska students rushed the court after the final buzzer.
“The fans are the reason. You couldn’t even hear the whistle at one point,” Petteway said. “The student section was filled 90 minutes before the game. I knew it was going to be a good night.”
The Huskers (9-8, 1-5 Big Ten) are 8-1 at their new home.
“I swear I’ve never stood in this building and thought we were going to lose a game so far,” Miles said.
The Buckeyes beat Nebraska by 31 points on Jan. 4 in Columbus and haven’t won since.
Shavon Shields had 18 points and nine rebounds to break out of a sophomore slump while Deverell Biggs added 11 points for the Huskers.
The Huskers survived after squandering the big first-half lead and won against a ranked opponent for the first time in 16 games. They used a 16-5 run late in the second half to regain control and made 13 of their last 16 free throws to hold off the Buckeyes.
Craft scored 12 points, LaQuinton Ross added 11 and Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 10 for the Buckeyes.
Nebraska overcame 17 turnovers — eight by Petteway — and a couple of lulls to beat a Top 25 opponent for the first time January 2012. The Huskers committed turnovers on seven of their first nine possessions of the second half and went through a six-minute scoring drought in the middle of the half before they closed strong.
Ross’ finger roll gave Ohio State its last lead at 46-45. The Huskers took the lead for good when Biggs stole the ball from Craft and went in for a layup with 4:29 to play.
David Rivers’ two free throws made it a 10-point game, and the Buckeyes couldn’t threaten again because of Nebraska’s strong free throw shooting at the end.
“I was happy for our guys to be a part of it,” Miles said. “There’s been a lot of hard work. There’s been a lot of frustration. It’s the second year, and there’s not necessarily going to be incremental improvement. You can’t guarantee that. There are so many newcomers and we’re relatively young. We’re going to try to win as many games as we can.”
Nebraska led 34-25 after outscoring the Buckeyes 16-6 over the last 7:24 of the first half. Ohio State went 6½ minutes without a field goal after Amedeo Della Valle’s 3-pointer gave his team a 19-18 lead.
Shields scored seven points during the spurt, and Leslee Smith finished it when he swiped the ball from Amir Williams at midcourt and went in for a layup.
Ohio State got back into the game by outscoring the Huskers 18-2 after halftime, tying it and taking a 38-36 lead.
“We’re not the same team that won 15 in a row,” Craft said. “We have to go back and find that.”
Nebraska 68, No. 17 Ohio State 62
OHIO ST. (15-4): Scott 2-6 0-0 4, Craft 2-5 8-10 12, Ross 4-12 3-6 11, A. Williams 1-2 2-2 4, Smith Jr. 4-12 0-0 10, Loving 3-6 0-0 8, Thompson 4-6 0-0 9, Della Valle 1-4 1-3 4, McDonald 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-53 14-21 62.
NEBRASKA (9-8): Webster 2-3 5-6 9, Petteway 6-9 5-7 18, Gallegos 1-2 0-0 2, Shields 6-12 5-6 18, Pitchford 0-3 0-0 0, Biggs 4-5 3-5 11, Rivers 1-2 2-2 4, Parker 0-3 0-0 0, Peltz 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 3-7 0-0 6. Totals 23-46 20-26 68.
Halftime—Nebraska 34-25. 3-Point Goals—Ohio St. 6-21 (Loving 2-5, Smith Jr. 2-6, Thompson 1-2, Della Valle 1-3, Ross 0-2, Scott 0-3), Nebraska 2-13 (Shields 1-3, Petteway 1-4, Webster 0-1, Parker 0-1, Gallegos 0-1, Pitchford 0-3). Fouled Out—Scott. Rebounds—Ohio St. 27 (Craft 7), Nebraska 33 (Shields 9). Assists—Ohio St. 9 (Craft 3), Nebraska 6 (Biggs 3). Total Fouls—Ohio St. 25, Nebraska 18. A—15,342.
WHO: No. 17 Ohio State vs. Illinois
WHEN: Thursday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Value City Arena, Columbus
TV/RADIO: ESPN; WEOL 930-AM, WKNR 850-AM