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Ohio Bobcats vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers: Bobcats fall on Christmas to Cornhuskers

Ohio kept up with Nebraska for the better part of 40 minutes but couldn't sustain enough offense to overtake them on Christmas Day.

Bean Willis scores 15, but Ohio can't muster enough offense to defeat Nebraska
Bean Willis scores 15, but Ohio can't muster enough offense to defeat Nebraska
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska's Terran Petteway was a stat-sheet stuffer for 40 minutes on Christmas Day, and helped the Cornhuskers fend off a battling Ohio team, 71-58. Petteway drove to the hoop and displayed a silky jumper as he pumped up a stat line of 22 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks. Shavon Shields added another 22 points as Ohio struggled offensively for long stretches.

Much was made on the ESPN broadcast of the friendship between Nebraska Coach Tim Miles and Ohio Coach Saul Phillips, both of whom were head coaches at North Dakota State, as you might have noted from Jeff Goodman's picture on twitter.

It was Nebraska who came out more tenacious, as the Huskers attacked the rim early and often, and Maurice Ndour was the only Bobcat in the frontcourt to have any success against the Husker bigs with several baskets early. Ohio held Nebraska scoreless over a six-minute stretch, and without a field goal from the 12:35 mark until there was 4:30 left in the first half, but Nebraska responded with a 8-0 run to jump out to a 30-22 advantage. It was the lack of Ndour's presence for a good portion of the second half which helped Nebraska to fend off the 'Cats. Just a minute into the second half, Ndour picked up his third foul, and on the ensuing missed free throw picked up his fourth with the score just 35-30, and caused him to miss eight minutes of play. The aggressive play of Nebraska showed as the Huskers went to the free throw line 27 times (making 21).

Nebraska extended its lead over the next several minutes, but the 'Cats battled back, and narrowed the lead to 55-50 with 8:35 to go on an Antonio Campbell 3-pointer. The big guy has liked stepping out beyond the arc this year, and did so twice today. He has knocked down eight on the season.

Nebraska's David Rivers finished with more offensive rebounds himself than Ohio did as a team. Rivers grabbed six offensive boards compared to Ohio's four overall. Late offensive boards helped Nebraska to get second-chance opportunities and drain precious seconds from the clock as the 'Cats attempted to whittle away at Nebraska's consistent lead.

The defense of Coach Miles' squad proved just too much in the end, as last ditch efforts from Ndour proved not enough. Javarez Willis was a facilitator of sorts for Ohio with four assists, but also attacked the boards relentlessly to finish with eight rebounds (not to mention while leading the team with 15 points while not sitting out a single minute).

Ohio, now 4-6 has yet to really beat a quality opponent, and have yet to find a way to win a close game against a good program. It might be all a part of the adjustment process to a new coaching staff, but Coach Phillips likely chomping at the bit for conference play.