It felt like a big game. The Bob Devaney Sports Center was sold out. The student section was full an hour and a half before the game. There were chanting matches between the Creighton fans in attendance the feisty Husker fans ready for the opportunity to hold the ultimate trump card when they went back to work tomorrow. Instead, it was the All-American who won the night, showing why he is as highly regarded as he is.
The game started and it felt like a big game. The two teams traded blows, neither could get into a rhythm offensively and it was clear that this wasn't just a basketball game. This was a neighborhood brawl. This was the Jets vs. the Sharks. It was big brother vs. kid brother, but which was which? Tonight, big brother was Creighton. Creighton was highly ranked, prognosticated by some to make the Final Four and tonight we saw why.
This wasn't a game that will be held aloft for it's beauty and grace. This will go down as a game between a team looking to soar to heights only Butler, VCU and George Mason have tasted and one that is learning a new system and laying a foundation for what they hope will be a future reminiscent of the one their adversary is attempting to embark on as this season goes along.
The Huskers never led in this game. Doug McDermott, Creighton's Mr. All-Everything opened the game with a back door layup after Brandon Ubel came over to double CU center Gregory Echenique. The Huskers tried to battle and battle in the first half, getting a close as 9-8 after a Brandon Ubel jumber with 13:08 left, nearly keeping up before a 12-4 CU run extened the Jays lead to 21-12. CU took a commanding 28-17 lead into the break.
The Jays were able to effectively keep NU off balance and not allow them to get in any sort of offensive rhythm. They didn't allow Ray Gallegos to get many free shots and no one else stepped up to fill the scoring void left by the junior guard. The inability of the Huskers to find any effective scoring allowed the Jays to slowly expand the lead to take 28-17 lead into the halftime break.
Things never really got much better for Nebraska, though things did get a little chippy. Shortly after Husker head coach Tim Miles was called for a technical foul for arguing over what he believed to be a blatant traveling violation by McDermott, both sides nearly came to blows after Husker guard Mike Peltz and the Jays Avery Dingman locked horns in the scramble for a loose ball. Emotions boiled over for a while before the players could be pulled apart. It fed a mini charge by the Huskers, but in the end, it was the superior team who maintained their poise and pulled away for the 64-42 win.
It was a bit of a reality check for the Huskers, who had hoped to make a statement in this game. Instead, it was Creighton and McDermott who had the last word. The Huskers will have a week to lick their wounds and finish the semester before heading west to face the Oregon Ducks on Saturday Dec. 15. The game will tip off at 3:30 Central time and can be seen on FSN.