There’s no secret how Creighton plans to take down Nebraska on Saturday.
The Bluejays want to run. They want to shoot 3s.
But they know they’re going up against a defensive-minded team built to constrict and disrupt even the most explosive offenses. The Huskers have proven this season that they can handle fast-break threats and they can take away the 3.
That’s what makes Saturday’s matchup so compelling.
“Something’s got to give,” CU coach Greg McDermott said. “We’ll just try to get into a flow and see what happens.”
The statistics suggest that neither team has faced a challenge like the one it will meet Saturday.
The Jays are the 11th most efficient offense when attempting shots in transition — they’ve produced a 68.3 effective field goal percentage in those situations, according to Hoop-Math.com. But NU?
It’s holding opponents to a 37.3 effective field goal percentage on their quick shots (fourth nationally).
At the 3-point line, Creighton is second nationally (45.8 percent). But Nebraska’s 12th in 3-point defense (26.1). CU’s made at least nine 3s in all eight of its games while NU’s not allowed more than seven 3-pointers in any of its nine outings.
It’s strength on strength. And both teams are confident in what they do best.
They know a test is coming, though.
“You have to make adjustments,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “You have to be able to consider Plan A, Plan B, C, D ...”
The Huskers were ready last year. In the first half, they forced 10 Creighton turnovers, gave up just two fast-break buckets and held CU to 2 of 13 from the 3-point line. NU led 33-28 at the break.
The Jays countered and prevailed — but it took nearly the entire second half to seize control.
CU players could see a scenario where Saturday plays out similarly. Maybe it takes time to adjust to the aggressive Nebraska defense. Maybe they miss a few shots early.
Sophomore Mitch Ballock said it’ll be important for Creighton to stay committed to its brand of basketball.
“It’s just doing what we do and playing how we play,” he said. “I think that is our advantage. Our speed and our pace to the game. Hopefully we can wear them out on the defensive end and make stuff difficult for them to stop.”
During the Jays’ seven-game winning streak against Nebraska, they’ve scored an average of 74.6 points per game and made 49.5 percent of their shots. They have the potency to even exceed those numbers Saturday.
But it won’t be easy against NU, McDermott said.
“Nebraska’s elite defensively, especially at home,” he said. “It’s a very, very good defensive basketball team.”
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6-4, 195 | Sophomore | Wing | Charlotte, N.C.
It could be a breakout year for the Charlotte product. He worked all summer with that in mind, motivated by the fact Creighton will need a new go-to scorer. Now he's ready to step up.
6-5, 205 | Sophomore | Wing | Eudora, Kan.
He was sidelined this summer following groin surgery, but he’s back now. And because of his understanding of CU’s system and feel for the game, Ballock projects as a do-it-all glue guy for this squad.
6-7, 205 | Freshman | Forward | Lee's Summit, Mo.
Bishop appears to have a spot in CU’s rotation. He’s impressed with his ability to fearlessly attack the basket, absorbing contact with his strength or using his agility to evade defenders.
5-10, 155 | Freshman | Point guard | Topeka, Kan.
The walk-on from Topeka, Kansas, projects to be a valuable contributor in practice at point guard. His confidence seems to have grown since his arrival in the summer.
6-5, 200 | Senior | Wing | Lincolnshire, Ill.
The graduate transfer from Rice has settled in after joining the program in August. He had plenty to learn, but Cashaw’s temperament and experience has helped him adjust. He’ll add depth.
6-11, 225 | Sophomore | Center | Melbourne, Australia
He spent the summer adding strength after getting a brief taste of Division-I competition late last year. Creighton will benefit from Epperson’s above-the-rim presence as a scorer and shot blocker.
7-0, 230 | Freshman | Center | Townsville, Australia
The Australian, aided by his international basketball experience, looked like a veteran in his first sampling of Division-I practices. Froling could be an X-factor for Creighton.
6-5, 200 | Sophomore | Wing | East Chicago, Ind.
He spent his sit-out year working on his jump shot, and the results are evident. The transfer from New Mexico appears to be well suited for the Jays’ small-ball lineup.
6-3, 185 | Senior | Wing | Nashua, N.H.
The Jays moved Joseph from point guard to wing, and the position switch appears to be accentuating his skill set. Creighton could use a consistent spark from him off the bench this year.
6-9, 235 | Junior | Forward | Grosuplje, Slovenia
He looks like his old self after spending the offseason recovering from an ACL tear. Even a nasty ankle sprain last month couldn’t slow him down. Krampelj’s versatility as a scorer and a defender will be huge for CU.
6-5, 235 | Junior | Guard | Oviedo, Fla.
The offseason addition of Mahoney didn’t generate a ton of national buzz, but the Southeast Missouri State transfer has a Big East body and a consistent jump shot. He’ll redshirt this season, per NCAA rules.
6-3, 185 | Junior | Point guard | Charlotte, N.C.
He’s logged more in-game minutes in a Bluejay uniform than anyone else on the roster, so Mintz is expected to take on a larger scoring role. He could be one of CU’s better perimeter defenders, too.
6-2, 200 | Junior | Wing | Dedham, Mass.
Creighton awarded Scurry a one-year scholarship midway through last season for his impact on the team. He’s logged 88 career minutes, but his role behind the scenes matters a lot.
6-2, 180 | Freshman | Point guard | Hamilton, Mass.
His vision, pace and competitiveness should make the Massachusetts product a worthy complement to starter Davion Mintz. The future is bright for Zegarowski.