Photo by Pat Radigan
Story by Becca Mann
Huskers looking to give coach Tim Miles his first win over Nebraska’s in-state rival
After a thrilling upset of No. 14 Minnesota team in early Big Ten play, the Nebraska men’s basketball team (7-3) will hit the road Saturday, traveling just down I-80 to Omaha to take on top-ranked Big East opponent, Creighton (6-2).
NU vs. Creighton
Huskers look to snap losing streak in enemy territory.
The Bluejays also won on Tuesday night, when Creighton swatted down North Texas 111-68, a familiar opponent for the Huskers who defeated the Mean Green 86-67 at home on Nov. 13. Nebraska’s in-state rival has picked up losses to Gonzaga and then No. 22 Baylor, both on the road.
NU coach Tim Miles is 0-12 against Creighton all time and 0-5 with the Huskers. The Bluejays have tallied wins in six straight meetings to hold the all-time series at 25-25. The two teams met in Lincoln last year. Then No. 10 Creighton walked away with a 72-66 win, shooting 50.8 from the field while holding the Huskers to 32.4 percent. Nebraska went just 3-22 from beyond the arc.
If Nebraska wants to add another upset to the season, this time against a Bluejay team receiving votes in both polls, it will take focus on the backcourt and a high-energy offense. Creighton boasts one of the strongest groups of guards the Huskers will match up against all season, a fact Miles was quick to point to.
“We have to look at how we can get them under control,” Miles said. “They’ve got four guards who can start for most teams. Those two freshman guards are terrific, (Ty-Shon) Alexander and (Mitch) Ballock are really good.
“Of course, those wings, Khyri (Thomas) and (Marcus) Foster are really strong, powerful wings. They remind me of a Petteway-Shields kind of duo, and they shoot it better.”
Sophomore forward Martin Krapelj sits in the top five of the Big East leaderboards both in field goal percentage (67.2 percent) and rebounds (7.8 rpg) to lead the inside efforts.
Creighton is averaging 92.5 points this season, just 2.5 more than Minnesota (89) averaged entering Tuesday’s game. The Bluejays are shooting 52 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc, good for second and fourth in the Big East, respectively.
“They’re averaging, I think, 104 at home, so that’s the first challenge – stopping them from getting 100 points,” sophomore forward Isaiah Roby said. “I don’t think we’ve scored over 100 this year.”
Nebraska’s bench is deeper than in years past and more equipped to take on a powerful Bluejay squad. The Huskers are averaging 74 points per game this year, which ranks near the bottom of the Big Ten, but the team has had three double-figure scorers in all seven wins this season.
On the defensive end, NU sits at No. 6 in the conference in blocked shots (5.9 per game) and one spot higher with 6.9 steals per game.
Looking at a familiar opponent between the two teams, North Texas tallied more points against Creighton (105-82) than against Nebraska (86-67), but the big difference comes in offensive scoring efforts.
The Huskers shot 40 percent from the field, 29.4 percent from beyond the arc and 73.3 percent from the line while the Bluejays had at least 6 percent on all of those numbers. Creighton put up 56.9 percent shooting from the field while nabbing 39.4 percent from beyond the arc and 80 percent from the line. The Bluejays scored nearly as many from beyond the arc that Nebraska attempted, and it was free throws in the game that kept the Huskers alive. Nebraska went 33-45 while Creighton had just 20 attempts on the night.
Nebraska and Creighton tip off at 1:31 p.m. CT and tickets for the matchup are sold out, although standing room tickets remain.