No. 8 Creighton held Texas Southern to 30% shooting and broke the game open with a 20-0 run in the second half to down the Tigers 82-50 on Saturday night.
The Bluejays completed their season-opening home stand at 4-0 and will now leave the friendly confines of CHI Health Center Omaha to compete in the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City next week.
Here are three takeaways from the win.
For the fourth straight game, Trey Alexander hit the 20-point mark and threw down a poster dunk. For the second straight game, he flirted with a triple double.
The 6-foot-4 guard finished with 20 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and just one turnover while shooting 5-of-11 from 3. He’s averaging 21.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists while shooting 56.4% from the field, 38.1% from 3 and 100% from the free-throw line.
He wasn’t the only one who stuffed the stat sheet, though. Baylor Scheierman led the way on Saturday with 23 points, nine rebounds, six assists and just one turnover. Alexander’s start has somewhat overshadowed the leap that Scheierman has also made. The fifth-year senior is averaging 18.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting 52.2% from the field, 37.5% from 3 and 92.3% from the line.
“We can put the ball in different guys’ hands,” McDermott said. “I think it goes back a little bit to [Marcus] Zegarowski and Ty-Shon Alexander, they could both kind of handle it, they could play off each other a little bit. And now we have the third guy because Baylor’s very capable of operating in ball screens and in space, as is Trey, and Steven [Ashworth] is such a great shooter that we can use him in spacing situations or lift situations on ball screens, and they’re all really unselfish.
“So you combine the fact that they’re all pretty good passers to start with and they’re unselfish, then you’re going to have a night like tonight where even though we didn’t shoot it well, we had 21 assisted baskets out of 29, which is pretty good offense.”
Scheierman had an off shooting day, missing his first five 3-point attempts and finishing 3-of-10 overall. However, he still found a way to control the game, converting all three of his shots at the rim and hitting all six of his free throws in addition to his passing and rebounding. He’s now converted 12 of his 14 2-point shots through four games.
“I don’t think I shot it very well tonight from 3, but being able to get to the rim and get to the foul line and see it go through is good for the confidence,” Scheierman said. “Even though I didn’t shoot it at my best, my teammates are still giving me the confidence to continue to let it fly.”
Scheierman was Creighton’s best rebounder a year ago, and this year Alexander has made a significant leap in that area. Both are strong passers as well and their 14 assists produced a total of 37 points as nine of them were for 3-pointers.
With Alexander and Scheierman, Greg McDermott two of the most well-rounded guards in the Big East. Creighton has never had a triple-double including assists in its program history, but this year’s squad has two players capable of accomplishing the feat.
Live by the 3…
Creighton tied the program record for 3-point attempts on Saturday, finishing 14-of-40 (35%). The Bluejays attempted nearly twice as many 3s as they did 2s and finished with just 28 points in the paint, a season low.
Creighton missed nine of its first 11 3s to start the second half, sitting at 10-for-34 (29.4%) at that point in the game. Personally, I thought the Jays settled a bit too much on a day when shots weren’t falling, taking tougher 3s over working to create something inside the arc.
However, McDermott said after the game he thought most of the looks were good ones, and the program’s motto is “let it fly,” after all. At one point in the second half, Creighton had scored once in a five-and-a-half-minute span, allowing the Tigers to cut a 25-point lead down to 17.
“I thought most of them were OK,” McDermott said. “I know Steven got two wide open ones back-to-back possessions and we’re going to take that all the time. This team has always kind of taken what the defense gives us. If they’re going to press out and stretch out, take away the 3-point line, then we can get to the rim or we can get it to Kalk. Tonight, when the ball got into the paint, everything collapsed and we were able to kick it out and get a lot of good looks. There were a couple that were maybe a little rushed, a little early, but I thought for the most part they were pretty good shots.”
However, Creighton continued to let it fly. The bucket that ended the drought was technically a long 2 as Scheierman had a foot on the line on an open shot from the corner that followed multiple drive-and-kicks. Then Creighton pushed off a stop and Ashworth dropped a perfect pass over the top to Ryan Kalkbrenner for a fast-break layup. Creighton pushed off another stop and Ashworth hit Scheierman on the wing for a catch-and-shoot 3, then Alexander found Mason Miller in the left corner with a skip pass for another 3. Alexander pulled up for 3 in transition himself on the next play then Scheierman went coast-to-coast for a tough finish.
At that point, McDermott called timeout to get his subs in, and on the first play Josiah Dotzler found Isaac Traudt for a 3 to complete the 20-0 run. After opening the second half 2-for-11 from 3, the Bluejays hit four straight to take control of the game.
“That was the point where we started getting Kalkbrenner the ball a little bit,” Alexander said. “We were able to run the floor. But it started off with stops. We were just getting stops — getting kills is what we call them, you get three stops in a row. We got a couple of those and then we were just able to do what we do, let it fly and just get out and run.”
This team has some serious spurtability. The Florida A&M game was essentially one big run. The Jays opened the second half of the North Dakota State game with a 16-0 run. The Iowa game saw Creighton score 37 points in 9:15. Saturday’s 20-0 run was the latest instance of how special this team can be when it turns defense into offense and continues to let it fly from deep.
Ryan Kalkbrenner led Creighton in scoring a year ago, and although he’s maintained his unreal efficiency, he’s been a bit quiet offensively to start the season.
He averaged just 11.7 points through the first three — down from 15.9 a year ago — as Alexander and Scheierman have carried the load. However, a lot of that has simply been Creighton going with the flow. Limiting free runs to the rim for Creighton’s 7-footer has been near the top of every defensive game plan thus far, which has created openings for other guys.
However, Saturday was Kalkbrenner’s most productive game thus far this season. He finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds (three offensive) and four blocks. The Jays got him the ball early and often as he scored the team’s first six points, and he factored in heavily to the 20-0 run with his play on both ends of the floor.
Teams will have to pick their poison against Creighton this year. So far that’s meant big numbers for Scheierman and Alexander, but as those two continue to draw more attention from defenses, Kalkbrenner should be the primary beneficiary.