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Nebraska looks to put pressure on No. 25 Ohio State

Nebraska plays at No. 25 Ohio State on Wednesday as both teams look to finish their 2020 schedules as well as trying to close out games.

The Buckeyes (7-2, 1-2 Big Ten) held a seven-point lead at Northwestern with seven minutes to play on Saturday but lost 71-70 after missing two chances for the win.

"We've got to finish games," Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. "I also thought we had some decent looks we didn't make, and we passed up some shots we didn't take and ended up taking a tougher shot."

Nebraska (4-5, 0-2) has had good first halves in its conference games but has faltered in the second period. The Cornhuskers led Wisconsin by 10 before the Badgers ripped off 16 straight points after the break for a 67-53 win on Dec. 22.

In the Cornhuskers' Christmas day game vs. Michigan, they trailed by just two at the half but 5-0 and 10-0 runs by the Wolverines doomed them to an 80-69 defeat.

Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg wants to see that pattern change, starting against the Buckeyes.

"It's going to take us getting over the hump and hopefully getting some confidence to see what it takes to win these games," said Hoiberg. "We're capable. We're more than capable.

"You don't want to be labeled a 'first-half team' and say, 'Oh, we were close.' You can't be, 'Oh, here we go again' in the under-seven-minute media timeout to where you have a close ballgame and it's all of a sudden opened up. We need to continue to stress the importance of every single possession.

"Unfortunately, we missed a couple at the rim, and we missed a couple shots as well that hopefully we'll make when we take the floor against Ohio State."

In that regard, his counterpart is giving the same message to his players. For example, Holtmann was unhappy that CJ Walker fouled Northwestern's Pete Nance at midcourt with less than a second left in the first half. Nance hit both free throws to tie the score at 34.

"That was a poor play on our part," Holtmann said on his radio show Monday. "We have to be better. We just have to be better in that situation, and that's on me."

Ohio State forward Kyle Young understands the importance of not wasting an opportunity when a victory is within reach.

"All games in the Big Ten are gonna be tough, hard-fought battles, so we've just got to turn around and get to the next one," Young said.

A key will the Buckeyes' perimeter game. They are shooting a league-worst 22.2 percent from 3-point range in Big Ten play.

"We've got to shoot it better," Holtmann said. "Some of them I'm happy with the quality of shot and in other cases I'm not. It's a mixed bag, really. We have missed some good ones, some rhythm ones that are open, but we do need to shoot it better collectively, for sure."

Hoiberg wants his players to communicate better on defense.

"We're capable of doing it," he said. "I do think we have a great group of guys that talk, but that can't only happen when things are going well."

--Field Level Media

Updated December 28, 2020

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