PHILADELPHIA -- The first time Cheyenne Creighton went up against Kia Nurse 12 years ago, there were few thoughts about any potential college matchups.

Creighton's initial reaction was that Nurse was a matchup nightmare, but another thought popped into her head.

 
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"I think a lot of people got this whole cocky impression about her and she will tell you too," Creighton said with a laugh at the American Athletic Conference basketball media day Monday.

A couple of years later, Creighton, a senior forward at Memphis, and Nurse, a senior guard for UConn, would become teammates for the very first time on summer club teams.

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"Getting to know her as a teammate, you get to look at her differently," said Creighton, a native of Ajax, Ontario. "She's a great person and a great player so people want to be her teammate."

Creighton, who spent many of her summers as Nurse's teammate, wasn't done heaping praise on Nurse, a 21-year-old who has already been a star on Canada's gold medal-winning teams at the FIBA Women's AmeriCup in 2015 and '17 and at the 2015 Pan Am Games.

"She's like the face of women's basketball back home in Ontario," Creighton said. "UConn is going to go to Toronto to play Duquesne, so people are really excited for that, so a lot of people are going to show up for that game."

People in Ontario might have some interest in UConn's AAC opener as well. Nurse, a native of Hamilton, will lead the Huskies against Creighton and Memphis on Dec. 31 at the XL Center in Hartford.

"Over the last four years she has developed so much," Creighton said. "Her role has changed each and every year and she has emerged from it. Every time I see her she's gotten better and she's a great person to be around."

Kindred spirits

After Mississippi State guard Morgan William's jumper ended the longest winning streak in NCAA Division I women's basketball history, she was greeted with a hug from UConn coach Geno Auriemma even though William hit the basket that ended Auriemma's chance for a fifth straight national title.

When Dabo Swinney, the head coach of the defending national champion Clemson football team, was on the wrong end of a 27-24 loss to unranked Syracuse last week, he offered sincere and heartfelt congratulations to Syracuse coach Dino Babers.

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Swinney took it a step farther by going into the Syracuse locker room to offer more kudos, especially to standout receiver Steve Ishmael.

Although Auriemma hasn't exactly spent quality time with Swinney, he wasn't surprised by the Clemson coach and his classy reaction in defeat.

"When you see somebody do what Dabo did, you're doing the right thing," Auriemma said. "You don't necessarily have to go into the locker room, but you have to acknowledge it, especially when you're used to winning as much as he's used to winning, you have to understand losing. It's how you handle that end of it, and not how you handle the other end of it. I thought he did what most people do who have had a lot of success; they appreciate it."

This article is written by Jim Fuller from New Haven Register, Conn. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.