Zierden’s 17 paces Creighton in 83-67 victory over Huskers
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — As the final seconds ticked off another Creighton win over Nebraska, the sellout crowd of 17,776 at CenturyLink Center began chanting, “C-U, C-U, C-U.”
Geoffrey Groselle’s first thought as the celebration started?
“Pretty excited to leave Creighton with five wins against Nebraska,” the fifth-year senior said. “Pretty happy.”
The Bluejays’ mastery continued Wednesday night in a game that unfolded in a way that’s become quite familiar in this series.
The last time Nebraska visited Omaha, Creighton jumped out to a 38-8 lead. It wasn’t so lopsided this time. The Bluejays were up 21-7 less than eight minutes after tipoff. The Cornhuskers showed some fight, closing within four points, but Creighton won by double digits for the fifth time in a row.
With Groselle working over freshman forward Michael Jacobson in the low post and Isiah Zierden going 5 for 7 mostly from the perimeter, the Bluejays pulled away early in the second half.
The Bluejays (6-3) have won 10 straight home regular-season meetings with the Huskers (6-4), with their only loss to them in Omaha the last 20 years coming in the 2004 NIT.
“We have a great crowd, great venue, and it’s a passionate fan base,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “Because we’ve had the upper hand the last 15 years, the pressure really is on (Nebraska). Obviously it’s a huge game for us, and our guys love it. There’s a different buzz on campus for this game, different than any game all season.”
Zierden scored 17 points and Groselle added 15 for the Bluejays, who were coming off back-to-back losses and avoided their first three-game nonconference losing streak in five years.
“I’m not sure that at any point during my six years, minus the postseason, did we need a win as bad as we needed it today,” McDermott said. “We were a little fragile after what’s happened to us the last couple games. I was pleased we could come out with some energy.”
Nebraska’s Andrew White followed his 30-point game against Abilene Christian on Saturday with 28 against the Bluejays.
But Shavon Shields, who was averaging 15.9 points, was held to a season-low six as Creighton designed its defense to keep him under control.
“We talked to Shavon about that,” Huskers coach Tim Miles said. “Shavon requested, ‘Just get me the ball and I’ll see what I can do for others.’ They were throwing two or three bodies at him. Andrew was the one guy who got going.”
Shields became more frustrated the more he struggled, barking at Miles when he went to the bench during a first-half timeout. Shields didn’t get a shot off the first 10 minutes, and that was an air ball, and didn’t score until he stole a lazy pass by Ronnie Harrell and drove for a layup.
That came during a 12-4 spurt that cut Creighton’s lead to 36-30 at half. After the Huskers cut it to four early in the second half, they started turning over the ball and missing shots, and the Bluejays made them pay.
“A team like this that has presence in the post and shooters on the outside, that always gives them an opportunity to get on a run real quick,” White said. “A team that’s respectable at all five positions, it’s easy for them to get into a rhythm.”
Nebraska: Jacobson made his first start. ... Tai Webster scored 15 points and White had 10 rebounds. ... Huskers lead 25-24 in a series dating to 1922-23.
Creighton: Cole Huff, whose status was in doubt after banging up his shoulder taking a charge against Loyola-Chicago on Saturday, started the game but was limited to less than three minutes in the first half after picking up two quick fouls. He finished with four points. ... Bluejays have won 14 of past 17 regular-season games in the series.
MCDERMOTT VS. MILES
Nebraska’s Miles is still looking for his first win against a Greg McDermott-coached team. McDermott is 12-0 in head-to-head matchups. The longtime friends met seven times when McDermott was at Wayne State and Miles was at Southwest Minnesota State, once when McDermott was at Iowa State and Miles was at North Dakota State and four times with their current teams.
Is McDermott in Miles’ head yet?
“On the golf course for sure,” McDermott said. “I’ve had some pretty good luck on the basketball floor. A few bounces have gone our way.”
Nebraska hosts Rhode Island on Sunday.
Creighton hosts IUPUI on Saturday.