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There's a number buried near the bottom of the stat sheet from Nebraska's win over Creighton that is nearly as surprising as the Huskers outscoring the Bluejays from the three-point line.

Creighton — run and gun, let it fly Creighton — finished with zero fast-break points.

The NCAA's definition of fast-break points is a little ambiguous: "Points scored on a quick counterattack following a change of possession before the offense or defense is set." So there's some room for interpretation. Certainly, Creighton got some quick buckets Saturday night.

But for the most part, going by the stats, the Huskers succeeded greatly in job No. 1 against the Jays: Get back and guard.

Most every basketball coach will tell you defense travels — the effort, focus and intensity needed to be a good defensive team are as close to controllable variables as there are in the sport. And Nebraska was locked in from the start.

At Minnesota three days prior, Nebraska failed on the defensive end — the Gophers shot 57 percent in the second half and 52 percent for the game, becoming the first NU opponent in 35 games to shoot better than 50 percent from the field.

Things changed greatly by the time Saturday rolled around.

"In the pregame, in warmups, (NU assistant) Mike Lewis came in and said, 'They’re either nervous, or laser-focused,'" Husker head coach Tim Miles said. "And I think we know where they were. They were laser-focused."

CU did hit 11 three-pointers, becoming the first team this season to make more than seven against the Nebraska defense. But even then, the Jays' 40.7 percentage from long range was five percentage points lower than their season average.

Take away the flame thrower attached to Mitch Ballock's left shoulder, and the Jays shot 4-of-17 (23.5 percent) from beyond the arc. Ballock, whose 43.1 percentage from three was, crazily enough, the lowest among Creighton players with more than 10 attempts coming into the game, finished 7-of-10 from downtown and made his first six.

Creighton's 75 points were its second-lowest total of the season and came after a five-game stretch in which the Jays scored 94, 93, 87, 98 and 92 points. CU's 43.3 percent shooting from the field was its lowest of the season, even lower than the 44.2 percent against Ohio State in which the Jays scored just 60 points.

Asked about a specific sequence of plays in the second half, Miles again pointed toward the need for Nebraska to stay on point for 40 minutes.

"Every sequence with Creighton was vital," Miles said, "because they’ve got so many weapons."

The biggest weapon, sophomore guard Ty-Shon Alexander, came in averaging 19.4 points per game while shooting 51.4 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from three-point range.

He finished with 10 points, going 2-for-10 from the field and 1-for-4 from three-point range. It was the first time this season he's made fewer than two threes in a game, and just the second time he's made fewer than three.

Half of Alexander's points came in the first three minutes of the game, and he scored one point in the second half.

"I told them at the beginning of the year, I feel like we can beat anybody we play at any time, anywhere," Miles said. "And that’s not always the case. Sometimes you’re like, 'we might need an act of God tonight to get a win.' And maybe you do.

"But with these guys, I just feel like they’ve got a lot of versatility and we can do enough things. Today was a lot of fun."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.


Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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