The Nebraska men’s basketball team only trailed No. 8 Creighton by four points at halftime. You’d have no idea if you only went off the final score: a 98-74 win for the Jays.
Based on score alone though? It looked a lot like 2019. Creighton won that matchup 95-76. The difference? The Jays also led by 26 points at halftime.
You can’t really blame anyone for feeling a little hopeful at halftime this go-around. Things were different, or at least seemed to be, coming into the second half at CHI Health Center in Omaha.
“And then they went on that monumental run on us,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said after the game.
The second half is when Creighton really blew the door open on the Huskers. That run Hoiberg mentioned? It was a 15-0 run from the Jays, which led to the Huskers being outscored 54-34 in the second half. Those 54 points from Creighton were on 60.5% shooting with 14 assists, seven 3-pointers and four dunks.
Nebraska’s turnovers certainly didn’t help either. The Huskers had worked on limiting big mistakes with turnovers, according to Hoiberg. The focus heading into the matchup was on simple plays. The Huskers did all right with that in the first half, although that’s when 12 of Nebraska’s 25 turnovers happened.
Still, Nebraska was only down by four. That was a far cry from the 40-9 lead Creighton took quickly in 2019.
This year, Nebraska won the first-half rebounding battle and withstood a couple of surges from Creighton before halftime. Hoiberg credited the team for that, specifically one surge that took the Jays up by eight before Nebraska cut it back to two.
“The last time we were here, it was over before the first media timeout,” Hoiberg said.
Speaking of which, the matchup likely looked a little familiar considering it was also in Omaha. Just like 2019. The reason? With COVID-19 changing schedules and plans, home court advantage didn’t really matter all that much. Nebraska and Creighton opted to meet in Omaha for the second straight season before returning to play in Lincoln in 2021. The compromise helped to keep the rivalry on the schedule between the two programs.
And while it hardly ended how the team hoped, Hoiberg saw positives. Senior guard Thorir Thorbjarnarson did too, especially when comparing the 2020 squad to the one he played with in 2019.
Some of the growth and positives? Teddy Allen’s 26 points, which were a collegiate career high, and the team hitting a season-high 11 3-pointers.
However, those turnovers led to 38 Creighton points. The Jays also became the first team to shoot over 50 percent against the Huskers this season. There’s plenty of work to be done.
“We need to have a much better urgency to stick with it for all 40 minutes,” Hoiberg said.
Nebraska now has a 10-day break before Big Ten play begins. The Huskers will face No. 13 Wisconsin on Monday, Dec. 21. Until then?
“I’m excited to get back on the practice court,” Hoiberg said. “We had one day to prepare for this after a tough loss to Georgia Tech the other night.”
The plan? Get back to the basics. Hoiberg sees a team that has a lot of pride, which they’ll put to the test after a mandatory three-day break. After that, the Huskers will have six or seven practices before hitting the road to face Wisconsin.
“It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be physical, it’s going to be demanding,” Hoiberg said.
But Nebraska simply needs to get back to the basics to get ready for Big Ten play.
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.