Huskers fade in 2nd half in 64-42 loss to Bluejays
Nebraska coach Tim Miles' first exposure to the Cornhuskers' rivalry with Creighton was rough on the court and on the scoreboard.
Doug McDermott scored 27 points, Gregory Echenique had 12 points and 12 rebounds, and No. 16 Creighton pulled away in the second half for a 64-42 victory Thursday night in the annual meeting of the state's top two Division I programs.
Creighton (8-1) won in Lincoln for the first time since 2004.
''It's a disappointing loss for Husker fans,'' Miles said. ''We wanted to come out and compete and make it a game to the last possession. It's still a learning process. We're trying to build our program to where we're on the other end of this outcome.''
Dylan Talley scored 14 points and Brandon Ubel had eight points and 10 rebounds to lead the Cornhuskers (6-2) in an extremely physical game at the Devaney Center.
Creighton and Nebraska were meeting for the 46th time, and the home team had won the last seven games. The Huskers lead the series 25-21.
The crowd of 13,368 was the first sellout at the Devaney Center since the 2011 game against Kansas and first for a nonconference game since Creighton visited in 2006.
''We were pretty excited,'' Nebraska's Andre Almeida said. ''Maybe we got too excited because it's such a great rivalry and everything. We were ready to go. It was just a matter of execution. They got some points off our turnovers. Like Coach says, they ran offense off our offense.''
The Huskers came into the game off their best start since 2008-09 and double-digit wins over Wake Forest and Southern California.
Miles said coach Greg McDermott's Bluejays would be the opponent his team would need to get a true measure of itself.
''One player gets 27 points, another player gets 12 rebounds and a different player gets 10 assists and another player gets three 3s,'' Miles said. ''That's a few pieces to the puzzle. I was really impressed. Mac's a really good coach. He does a nice job with them. They're going to be hard for a lot of people to beat.''
The Huskers drew the more talented Bluejays into a sacrifice-the-body type of game.
No play illustrated it better than when Nebraska's Mike Peltz, a walk-on guard from Alliance, went to the floor near midcourt to fight for a loose ball with Avery Dingman and Garrett Gibbs in what looked like a rugby scrum.
Nebraska fans, undoubtedly envious of the basketball success of the 6,000-student Jesuit school 50 miles away in Omaha, cheered any and all achievements of their Huskers, whether it was winning a loose ball or making a layup.
They howled when Miles drew a technical for protesting a no-call on what he and most folks in the building thought was traveling as McDermott scored inside. McDermott made the two free throws for a 15-point lead.
The Bluejays used a 13-5 run to pull away in the second half and led by as many as 22 points. Fans began leaving with 6 minutes to play.
Ray Gallegos, who scored 20 points against Wake Forest and another 20 against USC, was 2 of 8 from the field and scored all five of his points in the first half.
''They took us out of a lot of the things we wanted to do,'' Ubel said. ''They had a good game plan coming in. They didn't let Ray gets any catches. They played off Benny (Parker) and Mike (Peltz) in the lane. That kind of makes guys a little uncomfortable and that clogs things up.''
Almeida had the first of his four blocks on the first shot of the game, by Echenique, in what was a symbolic start to a sloppy first half in which the Huskers shot 25 percent and the Bluejays 37 percent. The Huskers finished at 32 percent, the Bluejays at 46 percent.
The Huskers couldn't capitalize. They went more than 6 minutes between field goals during one stretch, putting up an air ball and a couple other shots that barely hit iron.
Echenique broke things open with consecutive dunks, the first on Gibbs' pass out of a trap and the second off Gibbs' mini alley-oop pass for a 21-12 lead.
Another big dunk to start the second half put Creighton up 30-17.