Huskers go down in 66-76 loss to Creighton.
Omaha, Neb. — Despite a career-high 29 points from Bo Spencer, the Nebraska men's basketball team fell at No. 22 Creighton, 77-66, Sunday afternoon at CenturyLink Center in Omaha.
Spencer paced the Huskers with 29 points, hitting 10-of-16 shots from the floor and adding five rebounds, three assists and three steals in a losing effort, as Nebraska overcame nine-point first half deficit to give Nebraska (4-3) a five-point second-half lead.
Nebraska was within 46-45 with 9:15 remaining before Creighton got five points on a possession, taking advantage of a controversial technical foul on Toney McCray before Nebraska Coach Doc Sadler was called for a technical foul moments later. Greg McDermott hit three foul shots for CU before Grant Gibbs, who was fouled on the original play, added two more to stake the Bluejays to a 51-45 lead. On Creighton's next possession, McDermott's three-point play put the Bluejays up 54-45 capping an 11-0 spurt that turned the tide of a well-played game through the first 30 minutes.
McDermott led three Bluejays in double figures with 24 points and 12 rebounds, hitting 9-of-15 shots from the floor to help Creighton improve to 7-0 on the season.
Nebraska continued to battle behind Spencer and senior Toney McCray, who came off the bench for a season-high 15 points, pulling within 56-50 after a McCray free throw. The Huskers would get no closer, as Jahenns Manigat's 3-pointer from the corner quickly pushed the lead back to 59-50.
The Huskers made one last run, trimming a 10-point lead to 63-56 after a Spencer 3-pointer with 4:57 remaining, but could get no closer as two free throws by Antoine Young and a Manigat basket pushed the lead back to double figures.
The Bluejays, who came into the game hitting 64 percent from the foul line, made their free throws when it mattered, going 16 of 19 from the line in the second half, as part of a 19-of-22 effort from the line. Young was a perfect 10-of-10 from the line as part of his 14-point effort.
After a cold offensive start, Spencer and Brandon Richardson kept the Huskers close, as a three-point play from Richardson and a 3-pointer from Spencer pulled Nebraska within 7-6. Nebraska trailed 9-8 after a McCray basket, but Creighton used a 9-2 run of its own, as Josh Jones scored all five of his first-half points to extend the lead to 18-10 after a three-point play.
Creighton eventually pushed the lead to nine points with 3:04 left, but the Huskers regrouped, as Spencer led Nebraska on an 8-0 run, pulling to within 30-29 with 47 seconds left in the half. The Bluejays got a late break, as Gibbs got a long offensive rebound on a 3-pointer and hit a short jumper to give the hosts a three-point lead.
Nebraska shot just 39 percent in the first half, but had seven offensive rebounds and forced the Bluejays into 10 first-half miscues. Spencer hit all four of his shots from the floor, including a pair of 3-pointers, to finish with 12 points and keep the Huskers within striking distance.
Trailing 37-33, the Huskers ran off nine unanswered points, as baskets by Spencer and Jorge Brian Diaz tied the game at 37 before Caleb Walker's 3-pointer gave Nebraska its first lead at 40-37. The Huskers eventually pushed the lead to 42-37 after a pair of McCray free throws.
McDermott willed the Bluejays back, getting a pair of offensive putbacks to make it 42-41 before Gibbs' basket allowed Creighton to regain the lead. Nebraska regained the lead for the final time with 10:42 left after a Walker 3-point play before Gibbs answered with a three-point play of his own to make it 46-45.
The Huskers return to action Wednesday night, when they take on Florida Gulf Coast. Tipoff at the Devaney Center is set for 7 p.m. and tickets are available by visiting Huskers.com or calling 800-8-BIGRED.
*-Bo Spencer reached double figures for the sixth straight game, as he had 12 points at the half and finished with a career-high 29 points. His previous best was a 28-point outing vs. Western Kentucky when he was at LSU two seasons ago.
*-Spencer's 29 points is the most by a Husker since Aleks Maric had 32 against Missouri on Feb. 13, 2008.
*-Spencer now has 17 career games of at least 20 points, including three this season.
*-Toney McCray tied or set a career high for the third straight game with 15 points.
*-Nebraska held Creighton to 32 first-half points, equaling their lowest total of the season.
*-Dylan Talley made his first start of the season against Creighton. It is the first time in seven games that Nebraska has not started the same lineup.
*-Creighton's 51 percent shooting is an opponent best against Nebraska in 2010-11.
Source: University of Nebraska Athletic Dept.