12.21.2009 / From the Creighton Athletic Office, The Voice of Billy Bluejay
The Jays were looking to get back on the right track on Sunday evening, after the forgettable results of the three games in Orlando over Thanksgiving weekend. With the difficulty Creighton had taking care of the basketball in Florida, the aggressive defensive pressure that Nebraska would bring to the table was a reason for much indigestion for Bluejay fans.
"With this game being just the second true road game for the Jays, we should get a great opportunity to see if the team can build on the successes gained on Sunday night."
With the Huskers coming into the weekend with a 5-1 record and a road win at Southern Cal and the Jays sporting a 2-4 record, the feeling coming into the game was that this was one of the better opportunities for Nebraska to snap a six game regular season losing streak in Omaha that we had seen in some time.
The game was close, as is the prevailing trend in CU-NU matchups. It was a game of runs in the first half with the Jays running out to a 10 point lead at the midpoint of the first half. The Huskers then followed by forcing a six minute Bluejay field goal drought to regain the lead at 22-21. However, the Jays tightened things up and Antoine Young's layup at the horn took us into halftime with a 32-27 lead. While the Jays were up, the 15 first-half turnovers were a serious point of concern.
In the second half, however, the story was all Kenny Lawson. The Jays were able to get Nebraska's two main post players, Brandon Ubel and Brian Diaz, into foul trouble early. After Ubel and Diaz picked up their third fouls in the second frame, they had a very difficult time staying with Lawson and the Jays exploited this matchup time and time again. Lawson finished the night with a career high 25 points and his first double-double of his career with 10 rebounds. As a whole, the team also made strong progress on the two problem areas coming into the game: rebounds and turnovers. While the Jays had those 15 first half turnovers, the Huskers were only able to force three in the final 20 minutes. Also, even though the Huskers had a size advantage overall, the Jays maintained a lead on the boards throughout, and finished the game at a 31-25 margin.
With the early struggles against Dayton and in Florida, the Jays have little margin for error in the rest of their non-conference schedule and it won't get any easier this Saturday with at date at George Mason. The Patriots have had a similar start to the season as the Jays: Coming off the weekend, GM is 4-4 on the year with losses against Villanova and Georgia Tech in Puerto Rico as well as road losses at Tulane and George Washington.
In both games in Puerto Rico, the Patriots had opportunities to close the deal against Big East and ACC competition and fell short down the stretch. Prior to the Creighton game, however, Jays will certainly have interest in the Dayton-George Mason game in Virginia on Tuesday night.
A player to keep watch on Saturday will be junior guard Cam Long. Long is the leading scorer for George Mason, averaging 12 points a game and racking up 11 steals in eight contests. Long also went off on the Jays in the Bracket Buster game last season, puttin up 23 points, 6 boards and 3 assists in Omaha. The Patriots are also being outrebounded by a 4.2 margin a game, so we'll certainly look to see if Lawson and Runnels and the rest of the front court can keep up their improvements on the glass.
With this game being just the second true road game for the Jays, we should get a great opportunity to see if the team can build on the successes gained on Sunday night.
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