Ohio State shakes off loss by throttling Nebraska
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Coach Thad Matta applied some tough love after Ohio State's most recent setback.
"He was not very nice," forward Jared Sullinger said of Matta's demeanor in practice.
The approach clearly worked.
Sullinger had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Ohio State (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) shook off its painful loss at Indiana on Saturday with a 71-40 victory over Nebraska on Tuesday night.
"He wasn't very polite," the 6-foot-9 Sullinger said with a smile. "And that's what we needed to put the fire back in us."
The Buckeyes (14-2, 2-1 Big Ten) had little difficulty in their first game since committing 17 turnovers and committing 22 fouls while falling 74-71 at No. 12 Indiana.
"Nobody likes to lose more than we do," Matta said. "Like I told the guys, last year we learned a great lesson in the Kentucky game (a loss in the NCAA regional semifinals). But the season was over. Do we have the ability to learn a lesson here in the end of December and continue to move forward?"
Deshaun Thomas added 15 points and William Buford had 13 for the Buckeyes, who won their 35th consecutive home game.
Matta's message got through.
"Better now than later, but it was a life lesson," Sullinger said of the Indiana defeat and the residual fallout. "We gave up 17 layups against Indiana and they got whatever shot they wanted in the second half. As you can see, we turned up our defensive intensity in this game. We were just ready to play basketball."
Toney McCray had 13 points and Bo Spencer 10 for Nebraska (8-6, 0-3), which was playing its first Big Ten road game.
"We knew we were coming in here to play an awfully good basketball team; that wasn't a surprise," coach Doc Sadler said. "They're so long and physical. I don't know if it was just us, but I thought it was their best defensive game they've played in terms of intensity -- and they sustained it."
The Cornhuskers were outrebounded 44-21 and had more turnovers (17) than field goals (16).
Spencer came in leading the Cornhuskers in scoring at 15.1 points a game (24.3 in three road games). But he, like the rest of his teammates, never came close to competing with the Buckeyes.
One of the biggest cheers of the night came when the 16,158 fans recognized new Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer sitting in a private suite. He received a lengthy ovation.
Nebraska was without two of its top scorers for the fifth consecutive game: 6-11 Jorge Brian Diaz is out with chronic foot soreness, and junior-college transfer Dylan Talley has been sidelined by a thigh injury.
The Cornhuskers have had the most difficult early-season schedule in the Big Ten, with home games against No. 11 Wisconsin (a 64-40 loss) and No. 16 Michigan State (a 68-55 defeat) before coming to Ohio State. Those are also the top three teams in the preseason Big Ten poll.
Already up big at the break, Ohio State flexed its muscles in the opening minutes of the second half before Matta emptied his bench.
In the opening 2 minutes, Sullinger was fouled while releasing a 15-foot baseline jumper -- and it went in. Thomas also was fouled while tossing up a spinning, over-the-head bank shot that also found the bottom of the net. The lead hovered around 30 for most of the half.
The Cornhuskers got out to a miserable start. From a 4-all tie, Ohio State ran off the next 13 points while Nebraska was continually turning the ball over. During one span, the Huskers had turnovers on four consecutive possessions.
"I don't know that we were much of a test," Sadler said. "The bottom line is it just wasn't much of a contest for them tonight."
Five players scored in the 13-0 run for the Buckeyes, with Buford hitting two baskets and Lenzelle Smith Jr. adding a 3-pointer.
McCray, who had nine points in the half, scored on a drive to cut the gap to 28-15 at the 5:09 mark, but Ohio State took off again with a 16-5 run to close the half. After an inbound play broke down in the closing seconds, the pass went to Sullinger, who poured in a 3 for a 44-20 halftime lead.
The Buckeyes won despite committing 19 turnovers -- many unforced.
"We were pretty careless with the ball," Buford said. "But defense was the key to winning the game. When we play great defense, we always end up with better offense and we end up executing better."
Kyrie Irving scores 20 to lead Cavaliers past Bobcats
CLEVELAND -- The future of the Cleveland Cavaliers looked good in the present on Tuesday night.
Rookies Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, selected No. 1 and No. 4 respectively in last year's draft, led Cleveland to a 115-101 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday night.
Irving tied a season high with 20 points and had six assists with no turnovers, and Thompson had season highs with 16 points and nine rebounds.
"Kyrie makes everyone around him better," Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. "He gets more and more comfortable with each game. Tristan's in that same boat. He's starting to really understand his role and what he can do in this league."
Veteran Antawn Jamison had 19 points as Cleveland moved over .500 for he first time since Nov. 9, 2010, when it was 4-3.
The Cavaliers are using Irving and Thompson as centerpieces in their rebuilding effort from last season's team that finished 19-67. Irving has started at point guard in all five games while Thompson, a power forward, is one of the first players off the bench.
D.J. Augustin scored a season-high 26 points for the Bobcats, who have lost four straight since opening the season with a 96-95 home win over Milwaukee on Dec. 26. Charlotte coach Paul Silas was whistled for a technical foul for arguing with an official in the fourth quarter with the Bobcats trailing 108-91.
Silas was also displeased with his team's effort, particularly on the defensive end.
"It's just not gonna work if we don't play hard all the time," he said. "We're not talented enough to not play hard all the time. You can't just give it away (points on penetration) and let it happen."
Cleveland continued its strong 3-point shooting, making 10 of 21 from behind the arc. The Cavaliers made 16 of 26 attempts from 3-point range Sunday, falling one short of the team record in a 98-82 home win over New Jersey. Back-to-back 3s by Daniel Gibson gave the Cavaliers a 103-86 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
Cleveland's rookies also brought the crowd to its feet with blocked shots in the second half. Irving chased down Augustin's breakaway layup attempt in the third quarter, swatting the ball off the backboard with his left hand.
"It was just a normal basketball play," Irving said. "I just wanted to contest it the best I can."
Thompson also received a thunderous ovation when he blocked Byron Mullens' dunk attempt in the fourth quarter.
"We all love playing basketball, so why not play this way?" Thompson said.
Gerald Henderson had 16 points for the Bobcats after being held scoreless in the first half. Mullens, who played one season at Ohio State, scored a career-high 14 points.
Augustin, Corey Maggette and D.J. White scored all of Charlotte's 34 points in the first quarter. Augustin ended the period by stealing the ball from Ramon Sessions and scoring on a layup to give him 14 points. The Bobcats hit 12 of 19 shots in the quarter and led 34-27.
The Cavaliers finished the second quarter with an 8-2 run, sparked by two 3-pointers from Anthony Parker, to lead 57-51 at halftime.
Cleveland's spurt continued early in the third period. Five points by Anderson Varejao and 3-pointers by Irving, Jamison and Omri Casspi helped the Cavaliers build an 80-65 lead.
Bobcats C Boris Diaw was limited to four minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. ... F Tyrus Thomas (sprained ankle) has yet to play this season. ... Cleveland, which opens a seven-game road trip Wednesday in Toronto, doesn't play at home again until hosting Golden State on Jan. 17. ... C Semih Erden (right thumb fracture) was inactive one day after participating in his first full practice. Scott said Erden will likely play sometime during the trip.
Preseason Presumption No. 5: The Player of the Year race is between Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and North Carolina's Harrison Barnes (with Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor a close No. 3).
Reality: Sullinger has to be a top-three candidate on anyone's list, but Barnes has yet to take flight and mimic his late-freshman-season brilliance, and Taylor is a bit off the hyper-efficient pace he was on as a junior. A few very serious newcomers have emerged, among them Kansas' Thomas Robinson (who just went for 31 and 20 against North Dakota), Creighton's Doug McDermott (the country's best high-usage, high-efficiency player), Seton Hall's Herb Pope (the leader of the breakout-senior big man movement), Missouri's Marcus Denmon (the lead gunner on the most entertaining, efficient offense), and Kentucky's Davis, if people properly value his defensive dominance. Will it be one of that crew, or will an even better candidate emerge? Recall that last season's Jimmermania didn't get real until mid-January. Does someone have the power to swoop in, and force us to change the subject?