As a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and Creighton University’s School of Law, I experienced the unusual occurrence of two alma maters facing off against the University of Nebraska’s Basketball Team in the same year. The Rams were hosted by Nebraska on October 20 at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. As faithful Rhody graduate, I made the effort to secure tickets and hauled my family 60 minutes down I-80 to watch the game. (Thanks to URI’s Athletic Director, Thorr Bjorn, and the URI Athletic Department for the front row seats. They couldn’t have been better. Unfortunately, the game didn’t turn out as well as the seats.) The Huskers’ defensive play and three point shooting secured an early lead and a halftime score of 40-20. The Rams were only able to tread water in the second half, and ended up losing by a score of 83-63. After dropping tight contests at George Mason and the University of Texas, there were some positive vibes going into the Nebraska game and it looked like the Rams could be a decent team. So far, the Rams have struggled to a 1-8 start.
Following the URI game and based on the Husker play, I felt the contest between the Jays and the Huskers would be a good one. The Huskers then went 1-2 during a three game home stretch, dropping tight contests against Oregon and Wake Forest. At that point, I began too see the constant support Doc Sadler has received from my UNL friends begin to wane, and a steady stream of negative prognostications about the Jays’ game began to flow. Due to this being an instate rivalry game and having seen the Huskers play in person, I knew I shouldn’t let down my guard about the contest. My Partner and co-author of this blog, Brian Brislen, provided a nice preview of the game last week.
As expected, the game turned out to a be great one. (This time, I took in the action from my couch, rather than the first row behind the bench. Apparently, I need to work on my Jays’ connections.) The first half saw the Jays get out to a 30-21 score with three minutes to play in the first half. The Huskers quickly rallied and closed the score to 32-29 at the half. The Jays lead throughout the first half, but the pace of play was a defensive grind it out type of game which the Huskers favored. The Huskers capitalized on their momentum at the end of the first half and were able to secure a 42-39 lead at the thirteen minute mark of the second half. The Jays retook the lead 46-45 at the ten minute mark. At the nine minute mark, an unfortunate series of technical fouls were called against the Huskers and Doc Sadler, which allowed the Jays to extend their lead to 51-45. The Huskers never recovered and the Jays won 76-66 on the strong play of Doug McDermott (24 points and 12 rebounds) and Grant Gibbs (11 points and 6 rebounds). Following the win, the Jays improved their ranking to 17th in ESPN/USA Today Poll and 19th in the AP Poll.