For the ninth time in ten years, the Creighton Bluejays have dispatched of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. This time around, the Jays won 77-69 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, something they had not done since Maurice Watson Jr. dropped 25 in the 2016-2017 season.
It is a great accomplishment for a young Creighton team who had struggled against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Kennesaw State but held the lead for all but the first few minutes against Nebraska.
Instead of Maurice Watson Jr. dishing eight assists and dropping 25 points on the Cornhuskers, the game was dominated by another point guard, with the freshman Ryan Nembhard dropping 22 points and giving out five assists for the Bluejays. His four threes set up the men in blue for a great shooting night from deep; 10-23 on three-point attempts is the best showing Creighton has had from outside the arch all season by a full 15 percentage points (43.5% tonight, compared to 28% against Arkansas-Pine Bluff).
Nembhard's shooting opened the floor for others to hit three-pointers. Ryan Hawkins had his second, third, and fourth threes of the season tonight, including two in the final four minutes of the game. Alex O’Connell made two of his own, adding 13 points to the effort. Trey Alexander had a single three but added eight defensive rebounds to add to the 50 team rebounds Creighton had. Ryan Kalkbrenner did not make a three, but added 12 points and nine rebounds to an already great defensive night, with three blocks to his credit.
Although, as with all games, there are places to improve. Creighton gave up 24 points off 16 turnovers. The Bluejays gave up 42 bench points, most notably to Kobe Webster (20 points) and C.J. Wilcher (15 points). To have pulled out a win with those types of numbers show that CU’s half-court defensive efforts have been fruitful, holding players like Alonzo Verge Jr. to ten points on 15 shots and Bryce McGowens (who was averaging 27 PPG before today) to six points on 10 shots.
Creighton will advance to 3-0, and play next in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Friday, November 19th against Brown in the Paradise Jam. Brown (3-1) most recently played on Tuesday, November 16th against Division III Johnson and Wales, winning 98-47.