GAME NOTES: The Creighton Bluejays will begin a season-long, five-game homestand on Sunday afternoon, as they welcome intrastate rivals, the Nebraska Cornhuskers to CenturyLink Center Omaha
Since suffering its only two losses of the season on back-to-back nights in the Charleston Classic two weeks ago to UMass (96-90) and UAB (87-74), Nebraska has responded with three straight wins to improve to 6-2. The Cornhuskers most recently downed Miami-Florida on Wednesday, 60-49, as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Creighton rose to No. 20 in the AP poll following a 5-0 start, but it promptly fell from the ranks after suffering losses to San Diego State (86-80) and George Washington (60-53) in the Wooden Legacy last weekend. The Bluejays found the win column again their last time out with a 78-61 road victory over Long Beach State.
Creighton took last December's matchup with Nebraska, 64-42, but the Cornhuskers still lead the all-time series, 25-21.
Although Nebraska's latest bout wasn't its most impressive from the field (.391), it still cruised to an 11-point victory behind an outstanding defensive effort, which held Miami to only 13 first-half points and 32 percent field goal shooting on the night. Terran Petteway put up 14 points and also made his presence felt at the other end of the floor with three blocks and a steal. Walter Pitchford added 13 points, while Shavon Shields tallied nine points and seven rebounds. On the season, the Cornhuskers shoot 44.4 percent from the field for 74.9 points per game, 8.4 points more than they allow, with their most positive attribute coming in the takeaway battle where they boast a +4.7 turnover margin. Petteway, despite shooting less than 40 percent from the floor, leads the team with 16.0 points per game. Shields brings 12.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game to the table, while Deverell Biggs (12.0 ppg) is also a consistent contributor.
The Bluejays made easy work of LBSU earlier in the week, as they ran out to a 20-point lead at the break and the outcome was never in question in the second half. Although they shot a modest 42.3 percent from the field on the night, they drained 14 3-pointers and made 20-of-25 at the foul line. Doug McDermott was stellar as usual with 21 points on 5-of-11 from the field and 9-of-9 from the stripe. Ethan Wragge registered 15 points, while Will Artino and Isaiah Zierden came off the bench to net 13 and 12 points, respectively. Creighton has been one of the nation's most potent scoring teams in recent years, and the start of this season has been no different as it pours in 83.4 points per game on greater than 49 percent shooting. McDermott, a preseason First Team All-American, has been great with 24.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Wragge (12.1 ppg) and Devin Brooks (9.9 ppg) have been solid complementary options. The team has also played sound defense, holding opposing teams to less than 41 percent efficiency from the field and 68.6 points per game.
Although Nebraska has been playing well this season, it will be hard-pressed to take down Creighton on its home floor, as the Bluejays have gone 17-2 at CenturyLink Center Omaha since the start of last season. Expect McDermott to put forth another outstanding effort to lead the home team to victory.
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