LINCOLN, Neb. – The Creighton-Nebraska rivalry is alive and well.
It showed on the face of the Bluejays' Grant Gibbs, the 3-inch claw mark down his left cheek and the scratch under his right eye.
Players on both sides, no doubt, left the Devaney Center with bumps and bruises after 16th-ranked Creighton's 64-42 victory Thursday night.
"It was physical," Gibbs said. "We anticipated that and for the most part we reacted pretty well to it. A lot of guys stepped up and played tough."
The Bluejays pulled away in the second half after Nebraska's strong defensive play prevented them from establishing much rhythm early.
Doug McDermott scored 27 points, Gregory Echenique had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Gibbs had 10 assists for the Bluejays (8-1), who won in Lincoln for the first time since 2004.
Creighton was without Josh Jones, its first guard off the bench. Jones blacked out during pregame warmups, about a half-hour before tipoff, and was taken to a hospital for tests. Jones had heart surgery in September 2007 to replace an infected aortic valve.
"It was hard for our guys to get focused, hard for me to get focused, when something like that happens 20 minutes before game time," coach Greg McDermott said.
Dylan Talley scored 14 points and Brandon Ubel had eight points and 10 rebounds to lead the Cornhuskers (6-2), who were off to their best start since 2008-09.
"It's a disappointing loss for Husker fans," Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. "We wanted to come out and compete and make it a game to the last possession. It's still a learning process. We're trying to build our program to where we're on the other end of this outcome."
Creighton and Nebraska were meeting for the 46th time, and the home team had won the last seven games. The Huskers lead the series 25-21.
The crowd of 13,368 was the first sellout at the Devaney Center since the 2011 game against Kansas and first for a nonconference game since Creighton visited in 2006.
The Huskers drew the more talented Bluejays into a sacrifice-the-body type of game.
No play illustrated it better than when Nebraska's Mike Peltz, a walk-on guard from Alliance, went to the floor near midcourt to fight for a loose ball with Avery Dingman and Gibbs in what looked like a rugby scrum.
"One of those momentum plays you just try to run with," Gibbs said.
Nebraska fans, undoubtedly envious of the basketball success of the 6,000-student Jesuit school 50 miles away in Omaha, cheered any and all achievements of their Huskers, whether it was winning a loose ball or making a layup.
They howled when Miles drew a technical for protesting a no-call on what he and most folks in the building thought was traveling as McDermott scored inside. McDermott made the two free throws for a 15-point lead.
The Bluejays used a 13-5 run to pull away in the second half and led by as many as 22 points. Fans began leaving with 6 minutes to play.
"Our defense was really important tonight," Greg McDermott said. "Nebraska did a good job taking us out of our offensive flow the first half. We got into the teeth of their defense the second half."
Nebraska's Andre Almeida had the first of his four blocks on the first shot of the game, by Echenique, in what was a symbolic start to a sloppy first half in which the Huskers shot 25 percent and the Bluejays 37 percent. The Huskers finished at 32 percent, the Bluejays at 46 percent.
McDermott, who had a shot swatted by Almeida, found the going tough inside and missed six of his first eight shots.
The Huskers couldn't capitalize. They went more than 6 minutes between field goals during one stretch, putting up an air ball and a couple other shots that barely hit iron.
Echenique broke things open with consecutive dunks, the first on Gibbs' pass out of a trap and the second off Gibbs' mini alley-oop pass for a 21-12 lead.
Another big dunk to start the second half put Creighton up 30-17.
"Usually, when it's a rival, it's not pretty," Echenique said. "There is a lot of adrenaline, a lot of stuff going on. It's normal. We're a team that usually doesn't panic. We stuck through it."