Date: Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 - 7:00 PM - Pinnacle Bank Arena - Lincoln, NE
2015-16 Record: 20-15 (9-9 Big East Conference)
2016-17 Record: 8-0
Ranking: #10 (AP, Coaches)
Head Coach: Greg McDermott (7th year)
It’s that time of the season folks. Our intrastate rival, Creighton, comes to town with an undefeated record, a top ten ranking, and players at all ends of the court.
Yep, they seem to be as good as billed this season. Greg McDermott has made himself and NCAA tournament running team. Is it a better team that what he had when his son Dougie was there? Most likely yes. No, they probably don’t have a first team All-American on the roster but they have enough talent across the board to more than make up for it.
They haven’t played a ton of top level teams this year but they have done well enough during this undefeated run to make believers out of a lot of the country. They started out hot and beat ranked Wisconsin 79-67 in the Gavitt Tipoff. They then went on to beat decent NC State and Ole Miss teams on their way to winning the Paradise Jam Tournament. Both games away from Omaha in the Virgin Islands.
Buffalo did recently come into Century Link and pushed the Bluejays early on but didn’t have what it took in a 93-72 defeat.
Creighton is lead this year by junior transfer Maurice Foster. Marcus was originally recruited by Creighton out of high school but decided to go to Kansas State. Realizing that wasn’t working he transferred out after the 2014-15 season to play for the Bluejays. This deal has been a win for both. He is currently leading the team with 19.4 ppg while also averaging 2.4 rpg.
Foster isn’t the only one who can produce. In fact, Creighton has four starters who are averaging double digit points a game. Behind Marcus is sophomore guard Khyri Thomas who is averaging 13.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, and 2.8 apg. This Nebraska native is probably the most fun to watch as he can adjust well to wherever he is playing on the court.
Justin Patton is a freshman center who has made a huge impact at a young age. The 7’ 230lbs big man dumps in 12.8 ppg and takes down 6.5 rpg. Nebraska needs to be aggressive under the basket if they want any chance to stay in this game. Like Alex said in our Q&A with him, rebounding is an area that teams can take advantage of against Creighton. Shutting down Patton could be the opening to a good game for the Huskers.
Maurice Watson Jr. has been a mainstay since he transferred over from Boston University and brings exceptional leadership to the court. He is averaging 12 pgg, 2.4 rpg, and 9 apg. Maurice is a well rounded player who can adjust well on both sides of the ball.
I feel like I could go through most of the lineup here but most of you will quit reading at some point so I’ll stop. This is a team that plays 10 deep and they will.
If Nebraska is going to have any shot of winning this game they will need to keep playing the defense they are known for and up their offensive game. Creighton will take no prisoners once they get a lead and Nebraska will have to play them close early on.
Creighton is a very quick team who doesn’t always transition well once they are slowed down. This is something that Nebraska could quite possibly take advantage of out of the gate. Though I will say it seems that the Bluejays have gradually improved upon this as the season has gone on.
Like I mentioned above, if the Huskers can also take care of the ball after the shots this could be a very good night for the Big Red. Nebraska needs to watch the shot and shoot the basket when the time is right.
As you can tell, this is a very talented and well coached team. Many teams have either been up or kept it close early against Creighton so don’t be surprised of Nebraska has a good first half. What will tell the ending is if the Huskers can keep the momentum and shut down any runs the Blujays can have.
If Nebraska stays focused and keeps their heads in the entire game then it could very well be a happy night in the Rail Yard.