The occasional discomfort in his abdomen for a couple of days wasn't much of a concern to Kyle Young. The flu-like symptoms that popped up the morning of Ohio State's game in Cleveland on Dec. 29 were a little more worrisome, especially when the vomiting began shortly before tipoff against West Virginia.

When the symptoms persisted, Young realized it might be more than a bad breakfast. By the end of the final Sunday of the decade, Young was resting in a hospital bed after having his appendix removed — but not before pulling down 11 rebounds in a loss against the physically formidable Mountaineers.

“I really didn't know what was going on, but I tried to play because I was going to give it my all either way,” Young said Monday. “I just felt kind of sick. Weaker. The symptoms of appendicitis are flu-like, so I figured it was some type of sickness.”

It would ultimately cost the junior two games, which the Buckeyes lost. He made his return Saturday at Indiana, starting and playing 22 minutes, 54 seconds and finishing with three rebounds and one point while working himself back into game shape.

On Tuesday, when 21st-ranked Ohio State hosts Nebraska with a chance to halt a four-game losing streak, Young figures to be back in the lineup and doing his part to secure his team's first win since before Christmas.

It won't be the same Young that played 33 minutes and scored 10 points in that last win, which came Dec. 21 against No. 6 Kentucky in Las Vegas. As the game against the Hoosiers showed, Young is trying to get his fitness level back to where he can play like his former self. On Tuesday, Young said he asked to be subbed out of the game on several occasions to catch his breath.

“The biggest thing I think he's struggling with right now is fatigue,” coach Chris Holtmann said. “Kyle is a guy that when he's at his best, his motor is really, really running. He's not quite been able to get back to that yet. I'm anxious to see when he gets back to that at full strength. I think he would say his tank is a half to three-quarters full right now.”

So much has been made of Young's injury and the losing streak that coincided with his absence that Holtmann has tempered expectations for his return, specifically pointing out after a loss at Maryland on Jan. 7 that having the junior in the lineup would likely not have made up the difference in a 10-point loss.

There's no arguing, though, that the Buckeyes are a better team with Young. They were last season, too, when he missed four games with a stress fracture in his lower right leg. In six games without Young during the past two seasons, Ohio State is 2-4.

“Hearing I had to have surgery and get (the appendix) out was pretty disappointing because I had to miss games even though I didn't want to,” Young said. “My body wasn't feeling great. Especially with last year being out at kind of the same time and missing some Big Ten games, it hurts not being out there with your brothers and wanting to play.”

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy