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December 8, 2013

Hoops Gameday: Nebraska vs. Creighton

Nebraska Cornhuskers

vs. Creighton Bluejays
Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013 - 5:00 p.m. CT
TV: FOX Sports 1 / RADIO: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network

Creighton Bluejays (6-2, 0-0 Big East)
Streak: Won 1
Last Game: Defeated Long Beach State 78-61
G Austin Chatman (averaging 8.6 ppg and team-high 4.5 apg) Jr. 6-0 180
G Jahenns Manigat (averaging 5.6 ppg and 2.8 rpg) Sr. 6-1 180
G Grant Gibbs (sixth-year senior) Sr. 6-5 210
F Doug McDermott (two-time national player of the year) Sr. 6-8 225
F Ethan Wragge (second on team with 12.4 ppg) Sr. 6-7 225

Nebraska CornhuskersNebraska Cornhuskers (6-2, 0-0 Big Ten)
Streak: Won 3
Last Game: Defeated Miami 60-49
G Tai Webster (had five assists and four steals vs. Miami) Fr. 6-4 194
G Ray Gallegos (made first start of season against Miami) So. 6-2 182
G/F Terran Petteway (has led NU in scoring four of the past five games) So. 6-6 209
F Shavon Shields (first or second on team in points, assists, rebounds) So. 6-7 219
C Walter Pitchford (shooting 45.5% from 3-point range) So. 6-10 234

Keep them out of rhythm

Creighton comes into today's game boasting one of the most efficient offenses in the country, averaging 83.4 points per game and ranking seventh nationally with 18.4 assists per game. Obviously everything the Bluejays do goes through two-time national player of the year Doug McDermott, but the attention he draws from defenses opens up the four other Bluejays on the court with him, and they all can hurt you. Nebraska's defensive intensity is going to have be as high as it's been all season for a full game in order to make CU work to get every shot.
Watch the fouls

Maybe the biggest challenge McDermott could pose to Nebraska today is his unique ability to not only get the ball to the rim in the post, but to draw lots of contact while doing so. It's no secret that the Huskers have very limited depth when it comes to the low post, and it's also no secret that they've struggled all year with foul trouble. Guys like Leslee Smith, Walter Pitchford and Shavon Shields are going to have be very smart with how they defend McDermott when he has the ball, as NU can't afford to have any of those guys on the bench.
Handle the emotion

For the majority of Nebraska's lineup, today will mark the first experience in playing in the annual in-state rivalry with Creighton. The game is far and away NU's most heated rivalry, and there's no doubt that that 18,000 or so Bluejay fans inside of CenturyLink Arena are going to try and make life as difficult as possible for the Huskers. Oh yeah, this will also be Nebraska's first true road game of the year, as its only games away from home were three neutral-site contests at the Charleston Classic. How the Huskers handle the atmosphere will go a long way in determining their success this evening.

Head coach Tim Miles on stopping Doug McDermott:

"It takes a village to stop Creighton, because once you concentrate on stopping Doug, Ethan Wragge is going to make six 3s. Then about the time you forget about him, the Brooks kid goes crazy like he did against St. Joe's. They have a lot of weapons. I think (Will) Artino had a much better game against Long Beach when they established him more… Then Grant Gibbs is such a playmaker. He makes so many other players better that they can get you a lot of different ways."
Miles on his feelings about Nebraska football fans who root for Creighton basketball (a.k.a. Jayskers):

"That's their choice. Our obstacle is to be the team that we want to be and be one of the teams that's in the NCAA (Tournament) and winning, and Creighton's done that, we haven't. So until we get to that level, why complain about it?"

Creighton 81-74


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