Tonight, I believe we saw the future. I had a thought about this when I moved here - How cool would it be in the Huskers were good at the same time as the Jays? After tonight, I think we'll see that come into focus very soon.
Nebraska is going to become a great basketball state I tell you. It will happen no matter how good Nebraska gets in Football. On the road, the Creighton Bluejays needed a win desperately after a heart breaker against their hated rival, SIU, last time out. Nebraska, at home, wanted to prove to the Big 12 that playing in the Devaney this year will be nothing like last year. Both teams accomplished their goals tonight and their fans appreciated their heart and effort on the floor respectively.
The Bluejays, in Springfield tonight, were lead by their 3 Senior leaders - Nate Funk (21 points 4 assists), Anthony Tolliver (13 points 8 rebs), and Nick Porter (18 points 6 rebs). Each one at some point of the game vs. Missouri State, took over and put the team on their shoulders. Playing in the town he grew up in, AT had never won at MSU until tonight. He was a MAN tonight and was a big part in the 66-62 victory. The Jays are now 7-3 in the Valley and race is on the for Regular Season Crown.
Nebraska took on a Texas team at the Devaney Center that was more talented at nearly every position. However, through hard work and great first half 3 point shooting (Marcus Perry ended up 5 of 9 from 3), the Huskers had a shot with 2 seconds to play to win the game. Jamel White's floater rolled off the rim and the Longhorns escaped Lincoln with a 62-61 win. The loss drops Nebraska to 1-3 in the Big 12. Yet, this will be a game that the whole conference takes notice of.
All everything Kevin Durant had 26 points and 15 rebounds to pace Texas but it was the outside shooting of AJ Abrams (4-9 from 3) and Justin Mason (2-5 from 3) that ultimately did NU in. (Have you ever seen a game with more 3's taken? 47 combined!) Nebraska forced 17 turnovers but only scored 12 points off of them. It was a nip and tuck game all night that came down to just one final possesion. Nebraska didn't get it done but they should be ashamed of nothing. They played their asses off and just lost to a more talented team that made one more play at the end. (I just wish more than 10,661 people showed up to watch. Come on Nebraska fans! Give the team some support. I'm not saying you have to be the Jays but it should be close to 13k.)
Many college basketball fans, including myself, had imagined a state where basketball is talked about year round. For thousands of Nebraskans, the sport of choice is football. Yet tonight, in Omaha and Lincoln, all the talk is about 2 basketball games that went right down to the wire. Sure, Creighton fans are happy and Nebraska fans are not but this was about more than wins and losses tonight. This was about competing at a high level vs. a conference rival. Doc Sadler and Dana Altman have both of their programs on the watch list for national writers and pundits. I think the best is yet to come.
I can't wait til Nebraska vs. Creighton next year.....Think Steve Pederson will take Rass's offer for a home and home each year? I hope so! Tonight the ball of choice for the state was a basketball.
PS - Remember Zac Taylor and Matt Herian from 5 pm to 6 pm tomorrow taking calls on the show.