The campuses of Creighton and UNO are separated by only four miles. The time since the last competitive men’s basketball game between the two schools is 25 years.
On Nov. 30, 1995, Creighton and UNO met at the Civic Auditorium in downtown Omaha. Creighton, at the time was, establishing themselves in the Missouri Valley Conference. Omaha was still biding time in Division II. On that November day, it would be the Bluejays who walked away with a narrow 74-71 win.
25 years later, the Bluejays and the Mavericks finally crossed paths again, this time with slightly different scenery. Creighton is now one of the established members of the Big East Conference and is being heralded as a Final Four contender this season. Omaha is now an established Division I school and is chasing their first trip to the NCAA tournament. Both programs have moved up a few rungs.
This time around, the two teams met in a nearly empty CHI Health Center Arena on Dec. 1.
The increased quality of play between the two teams was evident. Creighton came into the game ranked No. 9 in the country at the time and it was clear why.
The Mavericks quickly jumped out to an early 7-5 lead but they found it hard to maintain their scoring pace. The Creighton defense quickly tightened up and forced the Mavericks to settle for bad looks and contested shots. The score quickly turned in favor of the Bluejays as they went on a 27-3 run in the first 20 minutes of the game. Omaha would stay behind by a significant margin for the rest of the half. The two teams went into the locker room with the Bluejays leading 50-26.
The second half saw the Mavericks maintain a few runs of their own. Thanks to the sharp-shooting sophomore Marlon Ruffin, Omaha was able to cut the lead to 19 just five minutes into the second half.
One aspect of Creighton’s game that they are known for is their ability to make shots from three-point range. Such ability was on full display against Omaha.
A three-pointer from the Big East preseason Player of the Year Marcus Zegarowski ended the Maverick’s run early one and handed momentum back to the Bluejays. As team, Creighton made 11 of their 22 three point attempts.
The rest of the game maintained more of an exhibition feel as the Mavericks were unable to pull within single digits. This was despite the best effort of Ruffin, who finished with a team-high 18 points for the Mavericks. In the end, the Bluejays walked away with the win by a margin of 94-67.
Omaha will be on the road for the rest of the non conference season. Jan. 2 will be their first game at Baxter Arena, where they will open up Summit League play against Oral Roberts.