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Maric leads Nebraska over Creighton

Nov 19, 2006 - 3:42 AM LINCOLN, Nebraska (Ticker) -- Nebraska finally broke out of a funk against Creighton.

Aleks Maric scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half as the Cornhuskers pulled away late for a 73-61 win over the 25th-ranked Blue Jays.

Nebraska (2-0) ended a streak of seven straight regular-season losses to Creighton, overcoming 28 points by Nate Funk.

"This was a big game for the state between Creighton and Nebraska," Cornhuskers coach Doc Sadler said. "Creighton has built a tremendous program, a classy program. But our guys are classy too. The biggest difference here tonight was that this place was sold out and so loud. Our guys got tired at times, but that crowd picked them up and got us through it."

Maric, a 6-11, 265-pound Australian, picked up a pair of fouls 61 seconds apart in the first half and had to go to the bench with 7:27 left and the Cornhuskers leading, 20-19.

A late spree by Funk, who scored 10 points in the final 8:14 of the half, sent Creighton to the locker room with a 31-28 lead.

It did not last long as Maric scored six points in a 14-5 run that put Nebraska ahead to stay, 42-36.

"I don't believe I have to put up numbers for us to win," Maric said. "If I can just take up space and open it up for the perimeter, then that's great, and that's what happened in the first half.

"In the second half they were more spread out on defense so I just took advantage of that."

Creighton (1-1) kept coming back and got within two, only to see Maric answer with back-to-back baskets for a 56-50 lead with 4:58 left.

Funk cut it to 61-57 with the sixth of his seven 3-pointers with 2:52 to play, but Nebraska responded with a 10-1 run, including five free throws by Sek Henry, to seal it.

"I was really disappointed with our defense," Creighton coach Dana Altman said. "Nebraska played with great intensity and emotion. We didn't guard as well as we needed to. We were a step slow all night. I was really disappointed with the defense. I didn't expect us to play well offensively, because we haven't all year. I thought we would play better defense, though.

"I don't want to take anything away from Nebraska. They played great and with great intensity."

Ryan Anderson scored 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting for the Cornhuskers, who shot a blistering 67 percent (25-of-37).

"Our team usually tries to feed off Big Al (Maric), but he was in some foul trouble in the first half so we had to change our style a little bit," Anderson said. "But some nights you're on and some nights you're off. Tonight, luckily, I was on."

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