July 30, 2015

Fast starts by Baylor derailed Nebraska, then Creighton’s tournament hopes

The Baylor Bears are in the Sweet 16 after impressive wins over Nebraska and Creighton that left both teams frustrated and on the outside looking in as the NCAA Tournament heads into the second weekend.  Baylor held Nebraska to 16 points in the first half of their game on Friday, then held Creighton to 20 with only three coming from national player of the year nominee Doug McDermott.

What can be overlooked is that Creighton continued a nice string of NCAA appearances and Nebraska returned after a 16-year hiatus.

Before the tournament started, Nebraska head coach Tim Miles said he was concerned with Baylor’s length inside. Baylor employed a zone defense that made it nearly impossible for either team to get an easy look inside.

The Huskers fell behind 14-5 in the first ten minutes of the game, as NU missed eight shots, five of them from three point range. Frustration boiled over as the Huskers let the lead get above 20 after head coach Tim Miles was ejected from the game, midway through the second half.

Nebraska is now 0-7 in their NCAA tournament history, but with Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields coming back as juniors, the future looks bright for Miles’ program. Not bad for a team that was projected to finish last in the Big Ten and finished the season 19-13 overall and 11-7 in Big Ten play.

On Sunday evening, Creighton started off just as slow as Nebraska, but the only difference was Baylor also came out red hot shooting the basketball. Their defense created fits for Doug McDermott, who was held to just three points in the first half. Meanwhile, Baylor made their first five three-pointers.

The Bears jumped out to a 25-9 lead over the Bluejays in the first ten minutes. As McDermott described, “It was the worst game we played all season. It just stinks it’s the last one.”

McDermott and this tight knit squad has played in three straight NCAA Tournaments and have gone 3-3. As McDermott pointed out, there are not many teams in the country who can say they’ve gone to the NCAA tournament three years in a row and won a game each tournament. The Bluejays finished the season 27-8 after going 14-4 in their first year of BIG EAST play.

Watch McDermott and Creighton’s post game press conference.

The Huskers opened up Pinnacle Bank Arena and made it a true home court advantage that was highlighted at the end of the season as nearly 16,000 fans saw NU knocked off ranked Wisconsin.  Creighton has been spoiled playing in front of sellout crowds at Centurylink Century of over 18,000 fans.  Basketball looks like it is here to stay in this football state.

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