Ohio State men's basketball: Free fall continues, this time at Nebraska

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UPDATED: Monday January 20, 2014 10:53 PM

Ohio State rallied from a 14-point first-half deficit to take the lead in the second half but couldn’t hold it tonight and lost its fourth game in a row, 68-62 to unranked Nebraska in Pinnacle Bank Arena.

The No.17-ranked Buckeyes (15-4, 2-4 Big Ten) have lost four games in a row for the first time since the 2007-08 season and only the third time in Thad Matta’s 10 seasons as coach.

Aaron Craft scored 12 points, LaQuinton Ross 11 and Lenzelle Smith Jr. 10 to lead Ohio State, which shot 38 percent from the field.Forwards Shavon Shields and Terran Petteway had 18 points each for Nebraska (9-8, 1-4), which ended a five-game losing streak. The Cornhuskers scored 38 points in the paint against the Buckeyes, who had given up 82 in their previous two losses, to Minnesota and Iowa.

Ohio State trailed 34-20 when Matta yanked Amir Williams and went to a smaller lineup, and the combination clicked as the Buckeyes scored the last five points of the half and started the second half with a 13-2 run without the presence of a big man.

The Buckeyes forced three turnnovers in the last 1:38 of the first half and seven more on Nebraska’s first nine possessions of the second to take a 38-36 lead with 14:43 to play.

Ohio State led 44-43 with 10:17 to play but went nearly the next seven minutes scoring only two points to to fall behind 49-46 with less than 3 1/2 minutes to play. The Buckeyes trailed by two points twice in the next minute and a half, but Nebraska put the game away at the free throw line in the final two minutes. The Cornhuskers made 13 of 16 free throws in the last two minutes.

Ohio State was 14 of 21 from the line for the game.

The first half was a familiar scenario as Ohio State fell behind 34-25 at the intermission. The Buckeyes were outscored 26-6 in the paint and shot 32 percent from the field. Adding to their misery was being outscored 15-8 off turnovers.

Ohio State’s next game is against Illinois at 7 p.m. Thursday in Value City Arena.