LINCOLN — As Nebraska freshman Taylor Kissinger played the best game of her college career Thursday night, one of her biggest fans and influences watched from the Pinnacle Bank Arena stands.
Brooke Kissinger, Taylor’s older sister, just happens to play for rival Creighton.
Sunday, the Kissinger sisters will play on opposite teams for the first time while Brooke’s twin, Jamie Kissinger, watches on the computer at the University of San Diego, where she plays. Their parents, Brian and Amy, will wear shirts that feature both players’ numbers and #Jaysker on it, and a good chunk of their hometown, Minden, will show up for Sunday night’s game, too.
This territory is a little new for all of them.
“So it’s going to be weird,” Brooke said. “But a good weird.”
“It’s going to be really fun playing against my sister since I’ve never done it before,” Taylor said.
Well, other than all those family games at home and in the gym. Taylor remembers the “bickering” that went on between the three sisters. Brooke remembers being more competitive with Jamie — her twin — and the two of them, three years older, being tough on Taylor.
“We’d always kind of bully her a little bit,” Brooke said. “We were older. She wasn’t as strong as us yet. But it’s been fun to see her grow as a player and the individual she is today.”
Taylor’s the best of the three. While Jamie at San Diego and Brooke — first at Illinois and now at Creighton — are role players for their respective teams, Taylor leads Nebraska (3-0) in scoring at 16 points per game. She’s No. 2 in steals and No. 3 in minutes, and when the Huskers needed clutch plays to beat Arkansas 80-69 on Thursday night, they turned to Taylor, who finished with 25 points and eight rebounds.
“She’s a really high IQ basketball player, but she has been very hungry since she’s been here,” Nebraska coach Amy Williams said. Taylor has the perpetual green light to shoot 3-pointers, but has enough floor game to be dangerous on the dribble, too.
The five-star, top 40 national recruit nearly picked the Bluejays. In April 2016, Brooke transferred from Illinois to CU. Taylor didn’t commit for another three months. Williams, new to the job, secured her first big recruit in July 2016, before she’d ever coached a game at Nebraska.
“It came down to Nebraska and Creighton, and I just wanted to be a Husker,” Taylor said.
Being rivals doesn’t prevent the sisters from supporting each other. Taylor attended one of Brooke’s exhibition games. Brooke came to PBA Thursday night.
“Doing a little scouting,” Taylor joked.
In truth, the Kissinger sisters try not to talk shop between the three of them. Brooke said their dad, Brian, or their coaches can handle those conversations.
“It’s nice to just be sisters and not deal with basketball all the time,” Brooke said. “It is a big part of our lives. But it’s not everything.”
On Sunday, for two hours, it’s close to everything. The Jays (1-1) beat Wichita State to open the season, then lost at South Dakota 73-68 on Tuesday. Nebraska, meanwhile, would like to end its homestand undefeated and avenge an 80-64 Creighton rout last season in Omaha.
Taylor said she’s focused on the team’s performance vs. the “hype” of squaring off against Brooke. Older sister agreed.
“We’ll probably just show up and play,” Brooke said. “We’re trying to just not really talk about it too much. Just because it’s a lot of pressure to begin with.”
» The Jays beat Nebraska last season at Sokol Arena, but Nebraska’s won 11 straight games against Creighton in Lincoln.
» Last year wasn’t the first time these two coaches faced off. When NU’s Amy Williams was at South Dakota, she led her team to two wins in four tries against Jim Flanery and the Jays.
» CU will be without reserve point guard Olivia Elger for a few weeks after the sophomore underwent surgery this week to remove a bone chip in her leg. Senior forward Bailey Norby also is not expected to play Sunday.
Creighton at Nebraska
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Pinnacle Bank Arena
Radio: 1600 AM, 105.5 FM
G, Sydney Lamberty, 5-10, Sr., 12.5
G, Myah Mellman, 5-7, Sr., 6.0
F, Jaylyn Agnew, 5-11, So., 7.0
F, Audrey Faber, 6-2, Jr., 15.5
F, Kylie Brown, 6-3, Sr., 1.0
G, Hannah Whitish, 5-9, So., 6.0
G, Taylor Kissinger, 6-1, Fr., 16.0
G, Jasmine Cincore, 5-10, Sr., 8.7
F, Maddie Simon, 6-2, Jr., 6.7
C, Kate Cain, 6-5, Fr., 12.7