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No. 10 Creighton blows by Nebraska

Maurice Watson Jr., Michael Jacobson

Creighton’s Maurice Watson Jr., left, drives to the basket ahead of Nebraska’s Michael Jacobson (12) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lincoln, Neb., Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. Creighton won 77-62. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)


Creighton’s offense does what so many other programs want to do on that end of the floor. The Bluejays push the pace, they share the ball and the shoot the heck out of it.

That was all on display in the 10th-ranked Bluejays’ 77-62 victory over rival Nebraska in the Huskers’ home gym Wednesday night.

Initially it looked as though Creighton (9-0) was going to absolutely dismantle Nebraska (5-4) when the Bluejays jumped out to an 18-4 lead in the early going, but Tim Miles’ group showed some grit to head into the locker room down just a point and a chance to pull off a top-10 upset.

That’s when Creighton’s offense found its groove. It’s a groove so well worn and natural to the Bluejays that when they settle into it, they operate as one of the best offenses in the country. Even on a night like this one when their most potent weapon, their 3-point shooting, mostly misfired, Creighton’s offense was still spectacular at times.

With the game knotted at 33, Creighton big Justin Patton blocked a shot that led to a Marcus Foster layup in transition. Then came a Maurice Watson layup, a Foster jumper and another Watson layup, again on the fast break. Two more layups followed from the Bluejays and then Cole Huff knocked home a 3 to put the exclamation point on a 15-4 run.

It proved to essentially be the knockout punch, its power coming from an offense running efficiently, even if it was using its Plan B.

Creighton came into the game shooting 44.8 percent from 3-point range, ranking in the top-five in the country. The ‘Jays made just 5 of 15 (33 percent) against the Huskers, but they converted 56.8 percent of their 2-point shots. Only four of their 44 attempts came from outside the paint, according to shot chart data. There’s little chance for a defense to try to slow Creighton if they can get to the rim that frequently.

Watson is a terror in both transition and the halfcourt. He puts so much pressure on defenses with his quickness, and Nebraska had little answer for him during his 25-point, eight-assist performance this night. Foster is the other headliner of the Creighton offense, but he was just a pedestrian 3 of 9 for seven points.

Watson and Foster are just two key pieces of the offense, though, as Greg McDermott has plenty of firepower. Patton (9 points) is emerging as a real threat. Cole Huff (13 points) stretches the floor. Khyri Thomas (7 points, 10 rebounds) is the unsung hero.

Creighton’s defense remains a question mark, but its offense can win a game by itself in more ways than one. Or two. Or three.