In what was a competitive and hard-fought game, the decisive moment in Sunday's Nebraska at Creighton game may have occurred outside the boundary lines, of the court, in CenturyLink Center Omaha.
With just over nine minutes left in regulation, and Creighton narrowly leading 46-45, Christopher Niemann was called for a foul on Grant Gibbs, but that was hardly the end of the play. Soon after the foul, Cornhusker guard, Toney McCray was hit with a technical foul for comments made to an official. Following the technical, the officials gathered around the court-side monitor near the Bluejay bench.
When Creighton head coach, Greg McDermott, stepped out to speak with two officials, Nebraska head coach, Doc Sadler, figured he had the same privilege. Sadler was instead charged with a technical foul; when play resumed, the Bluejays were headed to the free throw line for six consecutive attempts. The Bluejays made five of them, and never lead by less than five on their way to a 76-66 victory. Sadler seemed comfortable shouldering the blame for his team's loss in the post-game press conference.
"i've got to apologize to our team. That loss is strictly on the guy you're looking at right now, it isn't on anybody, but me" said Sadler.
At points, the game was much closer than the final ten point margin indicates. While Creighton never trailed in the first half, the Huskers closed the opening period on an 8-2 run, which left the Bluejays with a three point lead at intermission. The Huskers used the start of the second half to cut further into the Bluejay lead, and opened up a five point lead of their own, before things unraveled for the Huskers. Coach McDermott discussed Sunday's gritty victory.
"In some ways it is unfortunate that those kind of plays would impact a game, because it was a great basketball game," said McDermott. "I think it was an ugly basketball game in some ways, because Nebraska is going to control the tempo, and they are going impose their will on you and we are trying to impose something totally different."
Creighton benefitted from another spectacular game by Doug McDermott, as he finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds, for his third straight double-double. The Huskers were able to slow McDermott down in the first half, containing him to seven points, before his big second half. He spoke about what he saw after the game.
"They would double (team) some, but sometimes they would leave me one on one. (Brandon) Ubel is a really good defender, (he's) really strong. He is about 6'10" so it is hard to score over him," said McDermott. "I think I got it going when I got to the line there a little, and got my confidence up. They are a really good defensive team; I don't think we will play a much better defensive team than that."
Antoine Young made all ten of his free throws, eight of which came in the second half, to add 14 points, and Grant Gibbs, who played the entire second half, was the third and final Bluejay in double digits, scoring 11. Nebraska received a great performance from LSU transfer, Bo Spencer, who led all scorers with 29 points, while Toney McCray added 15 and Jorge Brian Diaz added 10.
The win improves the Bluejays record to a perfect 7-0, a record they will take with them to Philadelphia, when the face St. Joe's on Saturday. While the Bluejays have given fans plenty to pleased about, their head coach, doesn't want his team's mentality to waiver.
"We just can't get complacent. We can't get casual in our approach, and at times today, I thought we were a little bit casual with our passes, with some of our cuts, and as a result, they were able to get back in the game," said McDermott. "We're not trying to make any statements, we're just trying to move forward one game at a time. If we can keep that approach, we have a chance to have a pretty good year."