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Bluejay Men’s Basketball Blows Out Butler With Second-Half Blitz

by Feb 17, 2024Creighton Mens Basketball

Creighton Bluejay guard Baylor Scheierman (55) makes a three point shot in the first half against the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the men’s college basketball game on Sunday, December 3, 2023, in Lincoln, Neb. Photo by John S. Peterson.
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

No. 17 Creighton men’s basketball avenged a home loss to Butler by blowing out the Bulldogs 79-57 at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday.

The Bluejays (19-7, 10-5 Big East) outscored Butler 45-22 in the second half to run away with the victory.

Here are three takeaways from the game.

Second-Half Domination

Creighton got off to a sluggish start, falling behind by as much as eight midway through the first half before closing out the half on a 10-4 run to head into the break down by one.

Creighton went 2-for-11 from the 3-point line while Butler went 5-for-11. The misses didn’t deter the Jays any, however, as they came out of the locker room firing away in the second half, and the shots eventually started to fall.

Creighton hit four triples before the under-12 timeout, part of a blitz that turned a one-point game into a blowout. Creighton hit 12 of its first 20 shots in the first 12 minutes and outscored the Bulldogs 34-16 out of the gates to take control of the game.

Creighton put an exclamation point on the win by holding the Bulldogs scoreless for the final 5:39 of the game, extending the lead out to 22 at the final horn.

“It’s a great win for us because we beat to a very good basketball team,” Coach Greg McDermott said. “Especially with what they did to us in our place, we don’t give up 99 points anywhere very often, let alone on our home court, and that was all credit to Butler on that particular night. So for us to hold them to 22 on their court in the second half, I thought our guys were really locked into the changes that we made and the nuances defensively that were a little different than the first time we played them, and then let’s face it, we made some shots in the second half and they didn’t.”

Those perimeter shots falling in the second half created opportunities inside the arc, resulting in terrific offensive balance — the Jays scored 18 points from the arc and 20 in the paint after halftime. Butler’s misses also fueled Creighton’s transition offense as the Bluejays finished with a 22-2 edge in fast-break points.

“It’s always a point of emphasis for us,” McDermott said of the transition play. “I think sometimes people think because we don’t have a very deep bench, that we can’t play fast, and that’s farthest from the truth. We’re going to play fast, we’re going to try to attack in that first five or six seconds if we can and try to put as much pressure on the defense as we possibly can. Our guys are really well conditioned and then we manage the rest of it during the week in practice. At Xavier we had a nine or 10-point advantage in transition points and once again today we had the advantage there.”

The 22-point differential is tied for the largest margin of victory for a visitor at Hinkle Fieldhouse in the last 30 years. Reigning national champion UConn also won by 22 there last season.

The Jays said they took the loss to Butler in Omaha personally, and it certainly showed in the second half.

Scheierman Shines Again

Fresh off the program’s first points-rebounds-assists triple-double, Baylor Scheierman earned a spot on the 30-man Naismith Trophy Midseason Team on Thursday. He followed that up with another spectacular performance in Indianapolis on Saturday.

Scheierman had five of Creighton’s 15 first-half buckets, leading the way with 11 points at the break. He stepped it up even more in the second half, scoring 14 of Creighton’s 34 points during that blitz out of halftime.

He finished with 27 points on 10-of-14 from the field (3-of-5 from 3) and 4-of-4 from the foul line, 10 rebounds and three assists while playing the full 40 minutes. It was Scheierman’s sixth straight double-double, tied for the third-longest active streak in the country. Six of his buckets were layups in addition to the four free throws from drawing contact.

“They were really physical with [Ryan] Kalkbrenner on the inside and they’ll run some help there some, but Kalkbrenner’s a great screener besides all the other things he does for us and he set some incredible flare screens and pin downs for Baylor to get him loose,” McDermott said. “And then Baylor’s continued to develop part of his game where he’s going to the basket and finishing at the rim to go with his elite ability to shoot the basketball.”

Butler coach Thad Matta spoke highly of Scheierman after the game, echoing what Georgetown coach Ed Cooley had to say after Scheierman’s triple-double on Tuesday.

“He’s a tremendous basketball player,” Matta said. “He’s going to make a lot of money playing this game. He got off to a great start and they do a good job finding him. His release is so quick and he finishes in transition … He’s one of the best we’ve seen all year.”

Scheierman scored more at the rim than Kalkbrenner did against the Bulldogs, partly because Kalkbrenner attempted six 3-pointers, his highest total in a Big East game (second overall behind his 4-for-8 performance against Loyola). He hit three of them to match Scheierman, finishing with 21 points, six rebounds, two steals and a block.

Trey Alexander and Steven Ashworth didn’t shoot well from 3 )2-of-10 between them) but still combined for 27 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists.

Forty-Two-Point Swing

Jasen Green promised that Creighton wasn’t going to give up 99 points again the second time they faced Butler, and the Jays more than backed up his words.

Creighton had no answer for Jahmyl Telfort the first time the teams played. DJ Davis went off as well and a few of the Butler reserves hit shots they hadn’t really been making all year.

In the first half of round two, Creighton did a great job of limiting Pierre Brooks, Telfort and Davis — the team’s top three scorers on the season — to seven points on 3-of-15 shooting. However, the rest of the team shot a combined 11-for-13. Posh Alexander, known more for his defense and playmaking than his shooting, hit all five of his shots including a step-back 3 for 13 first-half points. Five man Jalen Thomas, who was 1-for-11 from 3 on the season and 8-for-26 in his career heading into the game, went 2-for-3 from deep and scored 12 points.

However, in the second half, the well of unexpected points dried up. Thomas missed his only second-half 3, Alexander missed all five of his shots and Butler went 1-for-11 from deep as a whole as Creighton continued to lock up the Bulldogs’ key players.

Creighton made some tweaks defensively with Kalkbrenner showing on ball screens and stringing out the ball-handler at times rather than sitting back in a drop, which was enough to disrupt Butler’s flow and force a couple of turnovers.

Butler shot 10-of-32 (31.3%) from the field with five turnovers in the second half. Telfort finished with four points on 2-of-12 shooting. Brooks had two points on six shots and only played 20 minutes. Davis scored 12, but it took him 13 shots to get there.

“We tried to be a little bit more physical, we tried to keep it out of Davis’s hands a little bit more,” McDermott said. “Telfort put on a clinic of tough shot-making at our place, and sometimes you just tip your hat to a guy that makes great plays and he made some phenomenal plays at our place. And some of those we were OK with, he just happened to make them. I thought we were a little bit more physical. We did run Kalkbrenner at him a few times and switched it. We got aggressive with ball screens a few times and we were able to turn them over and knock them out of rhythm a little.”

The defensive performance was enough to boost Creighton five spots in adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom to No. 24, moving the Jays into the elite club of teams that are in the top 25 on both ends of the floor.

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