LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska center Dave Hoppen gets far more attention on the court than he does off.
His reputation coming out of high school as one of the finest big men ever produced in Nebraska extended only as far as the state limits. The national recruiting headlines that year went to 7-0 Benoit Benjamin, 6-9 Wayman Tisdale and 6-9 Billy Thompson.
Benjamin went to Creighton, Tisdale to Oklahoma and Thompson to Louisville. And, if anyone cared, the 6-11 Hoppen chose Nebraska, a football school.
Now a sophomore, Hoppen still doesn't grab the headlines but he is proving he belongs in the same classroom with Benjamin, Tisdale and Thompson -- just as he probably belonged with them during the 1982 recruiting season.
Hoppen collected 25 points and 10 rebounds in an opening-round NIT match-up with Benjamin Thursday night to deliver the Big Eight Cornhuskers a 56-54 road upset of Creighton.
Hoppen also scored 27 points against Benjamin in a December victory over the Missouri Valley Conference Blue Jays to stake his claim as the best center in the state.
'People in Nebraska don't appreciate Dave Hoppen as much as they should,' Nebraska Coach Moe Iba said. 'He's not a great leaper. He's not spectacular -- he doesn't block a lot of shots or dunk the ball. He doesn't tear the goal down. He doesn't make the play that you walk out of the building talking about.
'But David makes the good solid play and is as good a finesse center as I've ever been around.'
Hoppen was one of only two players in the Big Eight to score in double figures in every one of his team's games this season, averaging 20.0 points. He has now scored in double figures 34 consecutive games and has become the first player in Nebraska history to reach the 1,000-point plateau in just two seasons.
The only other Big Eight player to score in double figures every game this winter was Tisdale, who averaged 26.6 points. In his two duels with Tisdale this winter, Hoppen scored 21 and 27 points in Nebraska losses.
Both players were overwhelming first-team All-Big Eight picks and Tisdale took it a step further by earning first-team All-America acclaim. Hoppen, however, didn't even earn honorable mention All-America.
But he played like an All-America against Creighton, converting a three-point play with 11 seconds remaining to deliver Nebraska its 18th win of the season.
Hoppen will have to shoulder even more of the Nebraska load in the second-round game against Xavier of Ohio Monday night as the Cornhuskers are likely to be without No. 2 scorer, Stan Cloudy.
The 6-4 forward strained ligaments in his left knee midway through the first half and sat out the rest of the Creighton game. He had been averaging 14 points per game but left without scoring a point against the Blue Jays.
'If David played every night like he did last night,' Iba said, 'he'd be very hard to stop. But sometimes he lets the game unfold before he decides he wants to play. He'll admit that. He's got to assert himself from the get-go.
'For the rest of his career people are going to set their defenses for him and make it harder and harder for him to get his hands on the basketball. He's got to be ready for that challenge every night.'