Creighton has won seven in a row against rival Nebraska. What will it take for the Jays to extend the streak to eight? Here’s a preview:
When: 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Pinnacle Bank Arena
Radio: 1620 AM KOZN, 590 AM KXSP
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2018-19 Record: 7-2
2017-18 postseason: NIT
Offensive efficiency (KenPom): 26th
Defensive efficiency (KenPom): 31st
Trending: Up. The Huskers are coming off a tough loss at Minnesota, but that doesn’t change the fact NU entered the season with four returning starters and elevated preseason hype. It’s arguably the best Nebraska roster in Tim Miles’ tenure.
Last meeting vs. CU: Dec. 9, 2017. Creighton won 75-65 in Omaha.
Players to watch
» Senior guard Glynn Watson: The play-making point guard has the quickness to put pressure on CU’s defense. Plus, he’s 22 of 47 from 3-point range (46.8 percent). He came into the year as a career 32.6 percent 3-point shooter.
» Senior guard James Palmer: An elite scorer who can finish through traffic and make guarded jumpers. Your best bet is to keep him out of the paint and draw charges — but good luck with that.
» Senior forward Isaac Copeland: He’s a tough matchup for the Jays because at 6-foot-9 he’ll be able to shoot over CU's defenders. Breaking his rhythm will be important, but ultimately, Creighton might just have to hope he misses.
Three keys for Creighton
1. Cash in from deep: The Jays rank second in the country in 3-point shooting (45.8 percent). Their top five scorers are all making at least 43 percent of their 3s. Creighton’s offense is designed to create open looks behind the arc. It has to knock them down. Nebraska’s length and athleticism will make that difficult. The Huskers are 11th nationally in 3-point field goal defense, and NU opponents are hitting just 26.1 percent from deep. CU was 5 of 21 from 3-point range in last year’s meeting.
2. Take care of the ball: Nebraska jumped out to a 12-4 lead at Minnesota on Wednesday largely because the Gophers committed three live-ball turnovers, leading directly to six easy points. On Sunday, NU was ahead 13-2 early against Illinois because of two Illini turnovers and a couple missed shots that had a giveaway-type of effect. The Huskers can struggle at times to score in the halfcourt. Creighton would prefer not to make it easier on them by turning the ball over and giving up high-percentage looks in transition.
3. Rebound: It’ll be imperative every game for the Jays, who like to operate with a four-guard lineup. But especially Saturday. They have to keep NU off the offensive glass, particularly Isaac Copeland, who secured five offensive boards against Creighton last year. Plus, on the other end, guys like Martin Krampelj and Damien Jefferson — if active — might be able to steal a couple second-chance opportunities against a team that’s produced a 62.2 defensive rebounding percentage in its last three games.
Vegas line: Nebraska -6
KenPom: Nebraska wins, 77-73
Jon Nyatawa’s take: NU has the edge in experience, but Creighton’s spent a full week preparing itself for Saturday’s showdown. You never know with youth on the road, but I’ll take the Jays in a thriller, 81-79.