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Korver-McDermott matchup highlights Hawks’ preseason finale

Kyle Korver found something interesting in the Hawks’ preseason schedule when it was released this summer.

The final exhibition game will be played in, of all places, Omaha, Neb. It’s the home of his alma mater Creighton University. It is a matchup against the Bulls, who feature fellow Bluejay Doug McDermott.

This could be fun.

The Bulls will host the Hawks in the city Thursday night in their preseason finale. The game will be played at CenturyLink Center, an arena that was opened the year after Korver left Creighton for the NBA. Korver said he tries to return to Omaha every summer for a chance to re-connect to an important time and place of his life and career.

“College kind of sets you on your track of where you want to go in life,” Korver said. “Obviously, we all evolve, learn and grow, but college years are important years. I was fortunate enough to be around a lot of incredible people in the athletic department, but also on campus and in the city. So many life-long friendships there. To go back and see a lot of those faces and play in front of those fans again, it will be fun. It creates some excitement.”

Korver played four seasons at Creighton from 1999-2003. He averaged 14.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 27.7 minutes. He left as the school’s fourth leading scorer (1,801 points) and was first in 3-pointers (371), 3-point percentage (.453) and free-throw percentage (.891). He was a two-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year. As a senior, he was second-team All-American and a finalist for the Wooden, Naismith, and Oscar Robertson awards. He was drafted in the second round (No. 51) by the 76ers.

McDermott had a decorated four years at Creighton from 2010-14. He left as the fifth all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I history (3,150 points). He was a three-time first-team All-American. Like Korver, he was a two-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year. He averaged 21.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 31.5 minutes at Creighton. He was drafted in the first round (No. 11) by the Bulls.

Creighton recently opened a $13 million practice facility. The practice gym features the Kyle Korver Courts named after the alum. It also features a players lounge that is, at the request of a donor, named after McDermott.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer is expecting a full dress rehearsal for the preseason finale. The Hawks had their starting five together for the first time in Tuesday’s win over the Pelicans.

Budenholzer was asked following Wednesday’s practice whether he was expecting a full rehearsal and would anyone be rested.

“We are expecting everybody to be available and play,” he said.

The starters played between 22-24 minutes in the win over the Pelicans, a time frame reduced by the fact that the Hawks led by 23 points in the first half. After playing the first eight minutes of the third quarter, the starters were done for the evening. The stint was planned to push the group’s conditioning, Budenholzer said.

“We probably would have played them a little bit more if the circumstances would have been different,” Budenholzer said. “It just felt like the right thing to do. I thought they played well in the first half, the energy and the defense, there was a good feel. Sometimes it’s good to put that in a box and go to the next day.”

The Hawks open the regular season at home against the Wizards on Oct. 27.

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