LINCOLN, Neb. – No. 13/12 Ohio State got a number of huge contributions, none bigger than freshman Malaki Branham’s 35 points, as the Buckeyes pulled-out an 87-79 overtime victory at Nebraska on Sunday night.
Road wins should count as two in the win column but the Buckeyes will settle for a fifth-consecutive victory to improve to 9-2 on the season and 3-0 in Big Ten play.
Branham had the hot hand right from the jump as he made three of his first four three-point attempts and finished the night 6-of-10 from long range. His previous season-high was 11 points and he eclipsed that midway through the first half. He had 21 points at halftime and his 35 points are the most by an OSU freshman in a Big Ten game. Only Jared Sullinger’s 40-point effort vs. IUPUI in 2010 was more by an OSU freshman.
Jamari Wheeler made three of his four three-pointers in the final 30 seconds of regulation and overtime. He finished 4-of-5 from deep and had a season-high 16 points.
E.J. Liddell battled a tough shooting night but made two clutch free throws to tie the game with nine seconds left in regulation. He ended the night with 10 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three blocks.
Other contributions were a career-high 14 rebounds from sophomore Zed Key. Jimmy Sotos made a big go-ahead three-pointer and had two spectacular assists. Eugene Brown III blocked a would-be putback at the end of regulation to save the game. Meechie Johnson Jr. made a pair of three-pointers, including one in overtime to help build a six-point lead.
On the night, the Buckeyes made 16 three-pointers, which is tied for the fourth-most in program history.
The first half was a game of runs. An 8-0 Buckeye run gave OSU an early 11-4 lead but Nebraska used two 10-0 runs to take a pair of two-point leads. But a Zed Key bucket with under 10 seconds left gave the Buckeyes a 34-32 lead at the break.
Nebraska had another 8-0 run in the second half to tie the game again with 8:30 to play. The Huskers led by five, 72-67, with just 36 seconds to play. Wheeler hustled down the floor and hit a big three-pointer to cut the lead to two. After a Nebraska miss, Liddell drove and was fouled with nine seconds left. He canned both free throws and then Brown’s block sent the game to overtime.
With the momentum, Wheeler and Johnson Jr., knocked-down back-to-back three-pointers to open overtime and the Huskers never got within four the rest of the way.
The Buckeyes will remain on the road this week when their head to Bloomington to take on Indiana on Thursday. Tip is set for 7 p.m. ET on FS1.