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Nebrasketball: Creighton Preview

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Red vs. Blue

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Creighton Bluejays Preview

Date: Saturday, December 8th

Time: 5:00pm CST

Location: Lincoln, NE

TV: BTN

2017-18 Record: 21-12 (10-8 Big East Conference)

2018-19 Record: 6-2 (0-0 Big East Conference)

Coach: Greg McDermott (9th Season)

Previous Season

Last year the Bluejays had a decent but uneventful season. They went 21-12 and ended up in a three way tie with Seaton Hall and Providence in the Big East Conference. They made an at large bid in the NCAA Tournament in the midwest region. There they were the #8 seed and lost in the first round to Kansas State. Again, not a terrible season by any imagination but also nothing to write home about.

At the end of the year they lost some of their best talent. Junior Khyri Thomas entered the NBA draft and Marcus Foster graduated. While coach McDermott has always kept a fairly stocked bench, these two would leave a decent hole in any roster. Khyri especially as he was voted Big East Defensive Player of the Year before he left.

Also, the beat Nebraska.

Current Season

Not a whole lot was expected from the Bluejays this year. There was a lot of questions regarding who would be taking the place of Khyri and Marcus. Both players were the only players to average double digit points per game last year. That alone can be a daunting task. So, a young team Greg has to work with this year.

As of today they are sitting at 6-2. Nebraska does share two common opponents with them in Clemson and Western Illinois. They beat the Leathernecks 78-67 in a game that saw them work some kinks out. Nothing out of the ordinary. As for Clemson, Creighton defeated the Tigers in November 87-82. Nebraska, on the other hand, defeated them 68-62. So, if you squint really hard you could probably take something away from that. Then again, maybe not. Just like Nebraska, this is their biggest win so far this season.

Their losses were to Ohio State in the Gavett Tipoff games played in Omaha. The Bluejays were beaten by the currently surging Buckeyes 60-69. Ohio State being another team starting the season off better than expected.

Most recently the Bluejays pushed #1 Gonzaga most of the game before losing 92-103. They lead most of the game before hitting a little bit of a dry spell half way through the second half and the Zags took the game over from the Bluejays.

Creighton is lead this year by sophomore Ty-Shon Alexander. The 6’4” guard is averaging a whopping 19.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. His biggest game being against Clemson where he had 36 points on the night. Ty-Shon will pressure Nebraska’s defense and will take whatever opening he can to score.

Damien Jefferson is a first year transfer from New Mexico. He is averaging 12.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. The 6’5” sophomore forward may be a tad short for his position but will be a threat to the Huskers early on.

Also of note is sophomore guard Mitch Ballock. Again, this is a very young team who is lead by these sophomores. He is averaging 10.8 points, 3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game.

Prediction

Coach McDermott has done well coaching up these underclassmen this year. His recruiting has made Creighton into a team that seems to be turning over talent well from one year to the next. Not a whole lot was expected of this squad but they seem to be coming together quickly.

They’ve been pushed on the court at times this season, but not to the extent that they will once Big East play starts. I see them seasoned enough of a squad to challenge any team they play. They did it against Gonzaga and they will do it again.

On the flip side, you have Nebraska. They are experienced and known. Most teams knew what they were going to get with the Cornhuskers this year and it has largely played out that way. Nebraska has good players, but I’m not confident they will always match up well against McDermott’s squad as the game moves on. If there is foul trouble early on, it could be a big problem for Coach Miles.

With that said, I am seeing the Minnesota loss as a blessing in disguise. Nebraska might just have needed a smack to the face before going against their in state rivals on Saturday. The Huskers make the crowd at Pinnacle Bank Arena happy and give their coach his first win against the Bluejays.

University of Nebraska 75 Creighton University 71