Deshaun Thomas outscored Nebraska in the first half 18-17 and finished with 22 points to lead No. 8 Ohio State past the Cornhuskers 70-44 on Wednesday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
Lenzelle Smith Jr. added 17 points for Ohio State (11-2, 1-0), which won its 15th consecutive Big Ten home opener. The Buckeyes have a tough test on Saturday at No. 11 Illinois.
The Buckeyes led by at least 20 points for almost all of the second half.
How bad was it for the Cornhuskers (9-5, 0-1)? Only 8:27 remained when they finally exceeded the 31 points that their football counterparts scored in a 14-point loss to Georgia in the Capital One Bowl a day earlier.
Ray Gallegos had 14 points to lead Nebraska, which shot 29 percent from the field.
Thomas’ big half spelled doom for the Cornhuskers, who came in 6-1 when holding opponents to 60 or fewer points — and 3-3 when they did not.
Nebraska, last in the Big Ten in scoring (61.7 points per game), never had the firepower to get back in the game.
Not much went right for the Cornhuskers from the very start.
Big man Andre Almeida, who stands 6-foot-11 and weighs well over 300 pounds, went down with a right ankle injury midway through the first half. He was helped to the locker room and did not return.
But things had spiraled out of control long before he left.
Nebraska had difficulty getting anything going, particularly struggling to get points inside. When they drove to the hoop, Aaron Craft was there to pester the ballhandler into a turnover. If they got past him, Ohio State centers Amir Williams and Evan Ravenel stood in the way and blocked or altered shots.
At the other end, Thomas scored five points early and then scored seven of the last nine as the Buckeyes ended the half on a 9-0 run.
The last time Nebraska beat a top-10 team on the road was Feb. 22, 1997, a 74-69 victory over No. 7 Iowa State. The Cornhuskers have lost their last 24 road games against teams in the top 10.
Thomas had one more field goal than Nebraska did — in 15 fewer attempts in the opening half.
He hit 8 of 12 shots from the field including half of his four 3-point attempts. The rest of the Buckeyes were just 7 of 21 (33 percent).
In their losses to Duke and Kansas, the Buckeyes shot .323 (43 of 133) from the field while hitting 49.4 percent (287 of 581) in its wins.
Ohio State scored the first five points of the second half to swell its run to 14-0 and its lead to 41-17. The lead never dropped below 20 again.
Craft was scoreless but finished with eight assists and four steals to disrupt Nebraska’s offense.