Jan. 3, 2012

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Ohio State 71 (14-2), Nebraska 40 (8-6)
Value City Arena – Columbus, Ohio
Attendance: 16,158

Thad Matta, Ohio State Head Coach
On tonight’s game
“I think we played defensively with the intensity that we needed to play with in tonight’s game. The things we were able to do tonight, we felt like we were where we needed to be and keeping pressure on the ball was big for us. Offensively, with the exception of three-point shooting and turnovers, we did what we needed to do and had the right intensity.”

On Nebraska coming into the league
“It is challenging coming into a league where we all have a feel for what teams are trying to do and the different players. This being their first year, it’s obviously a tremendous challenge in learning. We played some of these teams twice, three times last season. They’re looking at scouting and saying, ‘who is this guy?’ That’s one of the challenges to joining a league.”

On the practices after the loss to Indiana
“I think that you are constantly trying to get into a routine. Just to get these guys to understand the level that they have to play at every time they take the floor is something that is our job to do. Sunday was very conceptual in practice, following with yesterday which was a very vigorous practice trying to get the guys to understand what needs to get done. I think we’ve probably practiced this team harder than we have in the past due to the maturity and the youthfulness of this team. One of the messages yesterday was competing and that mindset carries over to the game. There were a couple of moments I had to refocus them, but for the most part they did a good job.”


On the turnovers
“I don’t really know what happened. We really try to pride ourselves on taking care of the basketball. There were some flat-footed passes and air passes where we just needed to drop them. We’re not good enough to turn the ball over 17 times in a game and we need to learn that.”

On the defense
“I think a lot of it was probably intensity. With a short turnaround we took as much as we could that we had seen with Nebraska and broke it down best we could. We knew (Bo) Spencer is a guy that can go crazy if you let him go in a game and getting guys to slow him down, which I thought we did well.”

On the loss against Indiana
“I think that nobody likes to lose more than we do and it’s like I told our guys last year, I think we learned a great lesson in the Kentucky game, but the season was over. We have the ability to learn a lesson here at the end of December and continue to move forward. We’ve lost three Big Ten games in two years and this is a pretty good conference. I told our guys it’s about keeping the focus on you and making sure you get better. There will be bumps in the road and I think that’s why we’ve always sort of kept it on us. After any game you learn lessons, after wins even. I think for the first ten minutes we were playing as well as we had all season, but the lesson you learn there is that you have to play under adversity and we didn’t.”

William Buford, senior guard
On turnovers
“We were pretty careless with the ball – 19 turnovers. Our defense was really the key tonight. You just have to learn from your mistakes when you watch film. Last week, against Indiana, we were also careless with the ball and didn’t value our possessions, so that’s something we need to focus on.”

On Ohio State’s freshmen and playing Nebraska for the first time
“They [the freshmen] are as competitive in practice with us as they are in the game. They really came out and showed that tonight. It’s always interesting playing a new team. They [Nebraska] work hard and play hard. It’s always great to get out there and play a new, quality team.”

Jared Sullinger, sophomore forward
On rebounding from the loss at Indiana
“Better now than later. It was a life lesson as far as the game, period. They got whatever shot they wanted, and as you can see we turned it up [on defense] tonight. We were just ready to play basketball tonight.”

On Coach Matta’s reaction to the loss at Indiana
“There were a couple possessions when we watched film where we knew that wasn’t how we wanted to play. He [Matta] wasn’t very polite, but that’s what we needed. We needed someone to put a fire under us. After that tough loss it was only right that he had to do that. That’s Coach Matta for you.”

Deshaun Thomas, sophomore forward
On what Ohio State’s focus should be
“Staying together and practicing really hard. We’re a family. We can’t take this for granted. We have to understand we’re representing the team across our chest – Ohio State.”

On his defensive play
“When you get two fouls early a little bit of the [competitive] mindset goes out. This game, I just kept my mindset focused on my defense. Like Will [Buford] said, defense breeds offense. When you focus on your defense you can compete on the offensive end of the floor.”

Doc Sadler, Nebraska head coach
On the game tonight
“We knew we were coming here to play a good basketball team and that wasn’t a surprise. Defensively, they [Ohio State] are so long and physical. I don’t know if it was just us, but I think that is the best defensive game they have played. They had intensity and they sustained it. The hard thing to do, when you get up on a team, like they did, is to not let up. I don’t think they did. That is a credit to their players and coaching staff.”

On Nebraska’s effort tonight
“I thought we competed hard. For all purposes this game was probably over at halftime. I was concerned at the end of the first half when we gave up a couple of easy baskets in transition that we might drop our heads. That didn’t happen in the second half so you have to give the guys credit. ”

On coming back from three Big Ten losses
“The hardest thing to do right now is to convince your fans and your players that something down the road is not going to be easier, but it is going to be better. We have to continue to get better offensively and score points. If we can’t get into the mid-sixties, we are not going to win many games in this league; I don’t care how well we play defensively.”