The rivalry between Nebraska and Creighton really became one tonight. For the 30th consecutive season these two in-state rivals have battled, with the Cornhuskers leading the series 22-17over the Bluejays.
But since the 1997-98 season, the Bluejays have owned the Huskers. Creighton has won eight of the last 10 meetings against Nebraska. The last regular-season victory for the Huskers was a 76-60 home win in 1998. Nebraska though won a postseason game against the Bluejays with a 71-70 win in the first round of the 2004 NIT in Omaha.
Nebraska owns a 12-3 advantage against the Bluejays at Devaney Center but Creighton has won three straight here.
Tonight, the Huskers came out fighting against the favored #20 ranked Creighton.
The first half saw NU and the Creighton both playing well, matching basket for basket against the more experienced Bluejays.
Even though Husker center Aleks Maric only scored two points and was ineffective for most of the first half, two freshman guards for NU picked up the slack.
Ryan Anderson and Jay-R Strowbridge provided an offensive spark for the Huskers. The 6-4 inch Anderson socred 13 points while Strowbridge added 6 points on two three-pointers in the half.
"It was a great atmosphere for basketball. The fans set the tone at the beginning of the game. I've never played in anything like this before," said Anderson.
Nebraska led for most of the first half but the Bluejays were always in striking distance. The largest lead by either team was only four points.
Creighton used a late run at the end of the half to lead 31-28 at halftime.
In the first half, Nebraska shot a sizzling 60 percent from the field including 4-8 from three point land. Meanwhile the Bluejays were under 50 percent from the field (44.4%) and 38.5 percent from beyond the arc.
The beginning of the second half was just like the first, as the Huskers and Bluejays battled tooth and nail.
Nebraska though came out as the aggressor and built a lead of seven points with a three-pointer by Jamel White to put the Huskers up 40-33 at the 15:46 mark.
The crowd at the Devaney Ceter was going crazy as NU never trailed after that. As Creighton made a run to close the Husker lead to 58-54 on Nate Funk's 3-pointer, White increased the lead again with a long three-pointer at the 3:30 mark to increase the lead back up to 61-54.
Funk again hit another three to close the lead to four again (61-57) at the 2:52 mark.
Nebraska answered with 3 free throws by Sek Henry to push the lead back up to seven at 64-57 with 1:43 remaining in the game.
Maric then pushed the lead up to eight points when Maric was fouled and hit a free throw with 1:30 left on the clock.
Nebraska then never looked back, as they continued to hit their free throws pushing the lead to as many as thirteen points at 71-58 with only 49 seconds left in the game.
As the Creighton fans started to file out of the Devaney Center, the Husker fans started chanting ‘Hey, Hey, Hey, Good By!'
The final buzzer sounded as the Nebraska fans mobbed the court
to celebrate a 73-61 win over the Creighton Bluejays.
Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler commented on his team's performance.
"I told the team before the season that this game won't make or break our season. Creighton has built a tremendous program and we still need to catch up," he said.
Sadler said the home crowd was a huge help to his team.
"We got a little tired in the second half but the crowd really helped pick us up and you have to have that," he said.
The home crowd advantage is something Nebraska really needs this season.
"The thing that has to happen for us to get this thing rolling is to have 13,500 in those seats every night. If we can get the fans to get into the games like they were tonight, we're going to have a good basketball team," said Sadler.
Nebraska had four players score in double digits. Anderson led the way with a career high 19 points, followed by Maric's 17, White's 13 and Charles Richardson's 11.
Creighton meanwhile only had one player score in double digits. Senior guard Nate Funk, scored 28 points in a losing effort.
For the game, Nebraska shot 68 percent from the field and 57 percent (8-14) from 3-point land. That kind of shooting from the Huskers has not been seen this season, and was a nice surprise to the Husker faithful.
Let the rivalry begin!Box Score