LINCOLN — Creighton senior guard Josh Jones spent Thursday night at a Lincoln hospital after collapsing before the Bluejays' game against Nebraska.
Creighton coach Greg McDermott said Jones “blacked out” during warmups about 20 minutes before the game. Jones, who underwent heart surgery as a high school senior, was taken from the Devaney Center on a stretcher.
McDermott and the Creighton team visited Jones before returning to Omaha after their 64-42 victory over the Huskers. McDermott said Jones was being kept overnight and will have additional tests conducted Friday.
McDermott said in a statement Friday that Jones' has stabilized and he is in the process of being transferred to Omaha for additional testing.
“His health is our number one priority right now, but he will be off the court until results of some further testing comes in,'' McDermott said. “We appreciate the support and well-wishes from across the state and nation, and look forward to his return to health.”
Jones also issued a statement, saying that he was in good spirits and doing well.
“The support from Bluejay nation has been overwhelming and proves what the Creighton family is all about,” Jones said.
In his postgame press conference, McDermott said Jones' past history of a heart problem is an obvious concern.
“We're going to be very cautious,” McDermott said. “The important thing is Josh's health.”
Jones underwent surgery to have a valve replaced in his heart in September 2007. He said this fall that he is tested annually and has experienced no additional problems since then.
Jones was looking forward to Thursday's game against the Huskers because it would provide him with one last chance to play at the Devaney Center, where he won three Class A state high school championships with Omaha Central.
“We all knew how much he wanted to play in this game,” Creighton guard Avery Dingman said. “Everyone on the team loves Josh, and it fired us up. We said we were going to get this one for Josh.”
Jones' absence forced McDermott to shorten his rotation to replace a player that had been averaging more than 19 minutes and scoring 7.0 points per game. Creighton's five starters each played at least 29 minutes, with guard Austin Chatman logging a season-high 37 while Grant Gibbs played 36 and Doug McDermott 32.
Dingman assumed Jones' role as first guard off the bench and played 12 minutes, his average this season.
“I knew I would probably play some big minutes,” Dingman said. “I just tried to approach it as I do every game, knowing that I would have to play with a lot of energy.”
Physical game shows
Two lengthy scratches on the side of Gibbs' face attested to the physical nature of play Thursday night. He said he was uncertain when he was scratched and by whom.
Doug McDermott said both sides did plenty of bumping and banging.
“It was real physical,” he said.
The most physical moment came early in the second half when Dingman dove to the floor in attempt to come up with a loose ball. What followed was a midcourt scrum that involved several players from both teams.
“It got pretty dirty down there,” Dingman said. “There was a lot of grabbing, and what went on, I honestly don't know. It fired me up, and it fired the team up. It got a lot of adrenaline going.”
Teammate Austin Chatman agreed the Bluejays got excited when they saw Dingman make the hustle play.
“He doesn't do that too often,” said Chatman, referring to Dingman's dive to the floor. “But he saw an opportunity to make a play. Coach was talking about toughness all week and how we were going to be physical.”
Not 'defining' loss
Creighton left an impression on Nebraska players after a 64-42 romp over the Huskers.
“They are a good team,” NU center Andre Almeida said. “There is a reason why they are No. 16 in the nation. It was a physical game.”
Almeida said the Huskers might have let the rivalry hype and Thursday's sellout crowd get to them a bit.
“But we were ready to go,” he said. “It was a matter of execution. They took away some of our stuff on offense and they got some points out of our turnovers. Like Coach said, they ran their offense off of our offense.”
Still, Almeida said he's not expecting any lingering effects from NU's worst regular-season nonconference defeat in three years.
“We can't let this game define us,” Almeida said. “And we won't. It's tough, but we've got to think about Oregon.”
Nebraska has eight days to ponder the Creighton result before facing Oregon on the road Dec. 15. The Ducks, led by former Creighton coach Dana Altman, are 7-1 entering Saturday's home game against Idaho State.
A salute to the fans
It's not every day that Nebraska draws a sellout crowd at home for men's basketball like it did Thursday night when 13,368 showed up to see Creighton win.
In fact, the last sellout was in February 2011 against Kansas. The last sellout for a nonconference game was in November 2006 against Creighton.
“It was great,” Almeida said. “When you are warming up and — I don't know how many people were here — but it was really packed. It's exciting. That's what college basketball is about.
“We truly appreciate our fans. We have one of the greatest fan bases in the whole country.”
Bits and pieces
Doug McDermott's 27 points pushed him into 10th place on Creighton's career scoring chart. He now has 1,579 points and moved past Benoit Benjamin, who scored 1,575 in his three years with the Bluejays … The 22-point margin of victory doubled Creighton's previously biggest margin in a game played in Lincoln. The Bluejays posted a 62-51 win in 2001. ... Nebraska's 42 points were the fewest it has scored against Creighton since 1932. … Greg McDermott became the first Creighton coach to win two of his first three games against the Huskers. He also became the third-quickest Bluejay coach to reach 60 wins, doing it in his 83rd game. … Creighton has won five straight games against Big Ten schools and is 7-1 against teams from the six power conferences the past two seasons. … Gibbs had 10 assists and one turnover. Gibbs has 58 assists this season to nine turnovers, a 6.44-to-1 assists-to-turnovers ratio.
— Steven Pivovar and Lee Barfknecht