The Creighton Bluejays take an early true road game this year, facing the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln on Tuesday, November 16th as part of the Gavitt Games. The Jays (2-0) are coming off an ugly win against Kennesaw State on November 11th. The Huskers (1-1) won their first game of the season on November 12th against Sam Houston State. Neither team has looked great to start the season, with both teams having trailed at half in both of their games, but there is optimism that these rivals will bring more intensity to their game when they get on the floor for bragging rights in the state of Nebraska.
How to Watch Creighton at Nebraska
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Watch Online: Fox Sports App
(via DraftKings Sportsbook)
Spread: Nebraska -3 | Creighton +3
Moneyline: Nebraska -160 | Creighton +140
These teams have been playing consecutive years since the late 1970s, but the history of the series goes back to the 1920s and 30s. The SparkNotes of the series is that one team usually goes on a decade-long run, and the other team responds in about 10-15 years to command the series for themselves. In the 80s and 90s, Nebraska was dominant, winning all but six games out of 22 matches from 1980 to 1999. Right now, Creighton has control of the series, with a 9-1 record against Nebraska in their last ten meetings. Overall, the series sits in favor of the Jays, 28-26, thanks in part to that massive 9-1 push over the past ten years.
Nebraska is led in scoring in the early season by Bryce McGowens, the former top-30 recruit out of South Carolina, who is averaging 27 PPG and has played a combined 75 minutes in his first two games as a collegiate player. He is 16-31 from the field, 5-13 from three, and 17-21 from the line in just the first two games. Needless to say, Fred Hoiberg’s squad is relying on the younger McGowens brother to produce, and Bryce is not disappointing.
The Cornhuskers also have Alonzo Verge Jr., the talented backcourt transfer out of Arizona State. He is averaging 19.5 PPG on 13-36 shooting from the field, going along nicely with 7 RPG and 6 APG. This isn’t the entire roster for Nebraska, and there are many more talented players (Trey McGowens, the top returning scorer, comes to mind), but these two players are the two that have broken out the most for the Huskers’ roster.
The Bluejays have relied on the scoring of Alex O’Connell (16.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG), Ryan Nembhard (13 PPG, 6 APG), and Ryan Hawkins (11 PPG, 10.5 RPG). These three are the only three averaging ten or more attempts from the field, showing that Coach McDermott has relied on this trio to make plays late.
The Kennesaw State game is a perfect example, as it was Hawkins who hit a low-post shot to extend the late lead to five, and Nembhard to hit free throws to make it a seven-point lead. These are not the only weapons, as Creighton also has Arthur Kaluma and Ryan Kalkbrenner, but like the Nebraska rundown, those three players are the three who have stepped up and shown their scoring abilities in the early season.
Of note for the game on Tuesday is that Nebraska has been particularly good at getting to the line and fouling their opponents. Creighton has already played a team who did something similar: Kennesaw State got Iowa State to foul 31 times but got the Jays to foul just 11 times. This will be big, as Nebraska has gotten to the line 67 times already this season.
Also of note, Nebraska is getting significantly out-rebounded. Nebraska has given up 102 opponent rebounds, good for the fourth-worst average in the NCAA. Creighton just so happens to be a top-50 rebounding team, averaging 46 total rebounds per game, so if they can keep the rebounding up, Creighton could walk out of Lincoln with a win.
But the big question is will the Bluejays steal a game in the Cornhuskers’ home territory? The x-factor will be their three-point shooting. If Creighton gets in a rut early, they will be looking to control the pace and space out the floor. To succeed at this, the shots need to fall, something that has not been going well for Creighton as of yet (18.2% from three). There will be times and opportunities for the Bluejays to drain threes, but the big question for this game is if they are able to capitalize.
Expect a close affair, and hope that Creighton is able to walk away from this a better, still undefeated team.