Maybe Missouri-Kansas City had a good practice on Tuesday.
Other than that, a three-day road trip to Omaha wasn't kind to the Kangaroos.
Two days after being trampled by Creighton, UMKC struggled to compete against UNO, too.
In fact, the Mavericks' 101-71 victory Wednesday night before 1,363 at Ralston Arena was by an even wider margin than Creighton's 96-70 win. UNO's halftime lead against UMKC was 57-27. For comparison, Creighton led the Kangaroos only 48-31 at the break.
“Tonight, shoot, I couldn't tell the difference,” UMKC coach Kareem Richardson said, half-kiddingly. “I thought I saw some Creighton jerseys out there the way they were spreading us out, shooting it and looking at 3s.”
CJ Carter scored 22 points, John Karhoff added 16 and Justin Simmons scored 12 for UNO (2-1), which also got nine points, eight assists and four steals from point guard Devin Patterson.
The Mavs led 47-17 after 15 minutes, and pushed it to 70-35 with 15 minutes left. Their biggest lead — 36 points — came twice. UMKC outscored the Mavs 12-6 in the closing minutes.
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The Mavs, a third-year transitioning Division I program, were diplomatic when asked the significance of beating the same team in the same town within 48 hours by a bigger score than Creighton, an NCAA-tournament caliber club now playing in the mighty Big East.
“We just tried to win by one tonight, that's all I know,” UNO coach Derrin Hansen said. “In a 40-minute game, I didn't think of Creighton or Duke or Michigan State or McNeese State one time.”
Karhoff, the senior center, shrugged.
“We're both D-I and both playing the same kind of teams,” Karhoff said. “We did our job, and they did their job.”
Carter, seated next to Karhoff at the press conference, laughed and added, “I guess we did it better.”
While UMKC is likely happy to get out of Omaha, maybe the Kangaroos also are happy to be out of the Summit League.
The Mavs swept UMKC last season before the Kangaroos departed for the Western Athletic Conference. UNO is picked to finish fifth in the Summit, and if Wednesday was any indication, UMKC might have been in for a long season. It may be anyway — the Kangaroos (0-3) opened the season with a loss to Division II Emporia State.
“Omaha played a fantastic game on both ends of the floor,” Richardson said. “One of the most impressive things about those guys is that I thought they shared the ball very well — they had assists on 23 of their 32 field goals, and any time a team does that they are really unselfish and play as a team.”
It was never close. Carter 3s gave UNO leads of 14-2 and 19-4. Simmons hit a 3 and made a fast-break layup to make it 24-6. At that point UNO was 9 for 15 from the field, including 3 of 5 from 3, with eight assists and no turnovers. UMKC was 2 for 6 from the field with seven turnovers.
“We just had to bring the energy,” Patterson said. “We didn't want them to get off to a good start. Coach said just punch them in the mouth in the beginning, and the game will be over.”
Carter had 16 first-half points on 5 of 7 shooting — including 3 of 4 from 3.
“CJ can get it going,” Hansen said. “He got going in transition a little bit, and our guys found him for a couple of 3s. He really got in a rhythm. Our guys did a good job making the extra pass.”
UNO, which led Iowa late in the second half Sunday, goes on the road for another guarantee game Friday at UNLV. The Runnin' Rebels are an expected NCAA tournament team that is 1-1 after a home loss Tuesday to experienced UC-Santa Barbara.
“They're more of a high-profile team,” Karhoff said, “but even though we weren't happy with the result on Sunday, we showed that we can play with anybody.”