Nebraska got the pace it wanted. Nebraska got the crowd it wanted. Nebraska didn’t get the result it wanted as No. 16 Creighton beat Nebraska 64 – 42 on Thursday night in front of 13,368 fans at the Devaney Center. Creighton’s preseason All-American Doug McDermott led all scorers with 27 points.
The Bluejays entered Thursday’s game averaging 82.6 points per game, but Nebraska’s defense was physical enough early on to keep Creighton in check. The Jays shot just 37-percent from the field and had only 28 points in the first half.
“Nebraska did a good job of taking us out of our offensive flow,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “The first half we just never had a rhythm. Our bench was a little bit shorter tonight and that played a role in our inability to get in a groove.”
But Creighton’s defensive effort was even better. Nebraska was ice cold from the field in the first half (25-percent) and even worse from deep, shooting 2-for-11 from three. A Ray Gallegos layup with 6:06 left brought the Huskers within two at 14-12 but it was as close as Nebraska would get on the night.
An Ethan Wragge 3-pointer with 6:19 left quieted a crowd on the brink of exploding. Back-to-back dunks by Creighton center Gregory Echenique, the second off a lob from Grant Gibbs, pushed the lead to nine and Nebraska never really recovered.
“(Creighton) didn’t give us angles to attack the basket,” coach Tim Miles said. “We couldn’t get fouled and we couldn’t get a rhythm. They did a nice job taking Ray out of the game.”
Gallegos had scored 20 points in the previous two games, but was held to only 5 on 2-8 shooting.
The second half started with another dunk from Echenique, again on the lob from Gibbs, and Creighton never looked back. Nebraska couldn’t get the second half lead under 11 points, as the Jays cruised the rest of the way.
But Miles said there was little question this rivalry is growing. A questionable no call on a potential traveling violation on McDermott forced Miles to draw a technical foul just three minutes into the second half. After making both foul shots, McDermott motioned to the crowd, which was already booing loudly, to get louder.
A few minutes later, Mike Peltz and Gibbs went to the floor for a loose ball. The pair stayed tangled up for nearly a minute, jawing and wrestling for the ball. For a rough and tumble game, the most shocking number of the night might have been Nebraska’s free throw numbers. The Huskers attempted just six while Creighton went to the line 18 times.
“It’s a disappointing loss for Husker fans,” Miles said. “We wanted to come out and compete and make it a game right down to the last possession and we didn’t. That’s beyond disappointing to me but it’s still a learning experience for this team. We’re going to go out and try and build our program to the point where we’re on the other end of this result.”
Dylan Talley led Nebraska with 14 points on the night. Brandon Ubel added 8 rebounds.
McDermott’s 27 points were the high for Creighton but it was the other contributions from the Jays that drew Miles’ admiration. Echenique had 12 to go along with 12 rebounds while Gibbs had 10 assists.
“One player gets 27 points, another player gets 12 rebounds, a different player gets 10 assists and then another player gets three threes,” Miles said. “That’s a few pieces to the puzzle. I was really impressed. They’re going to be hard for a lot of people to beat.”
Creighton sixth-man Josh Jones “blacked out” about 30 minutes prior to the game and was taken to a local hospital. Greg McDermott did not have an update on his status following the game … The 13,368 in attendance represented Nebraska’s first sellout since hosting Kansas in 2011. The last non-conference sellout was against Creighton in 2006 … Andre Almeida had four blocked shots, marking the fourth time in five games that he’s had three or more.