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No. 12 Creighton Set For Rematch with Seton Hall after Three-Overtime Thriller

by Feb 27, 2024Creighton Mens Basketball

Creighton Bluejays center Ryan Kalkbrenner #11 slams the ball home during a game against against the Central Michigan Chippewas at CHI Arenain Omaha, NE December 9th 2023. Photo by Eric Francis
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

The 99-98 home loss to Butler on Feb. 2 provided a bit of extra juice for No. 12 Creighton men’s basketball when the Bluejays made the return trip to Hinkle Fieldhouse. Creighton won round two 79-57 on Feb. 17.

The message for the Bluejays heading into Wednesday night is to expect the same kind of effort from the visiting Seton Hall Pirates after Creighton escaped Newark with a triple-overtime win on Jan. 20.

“They’re going to come in with the same mentality,” Francisco Farabello said. “They probably thought that that game that went to triple-overtime they should have won, so they’re going to be angry, they’re going to be hungry and they know that it’s a great opportunity for them for the postseason. So, we’re going to have to be ready from the tip to when the buzzer goes off.”

Farabello said the Jays are hungry as well coming off Sunday’s loss to St. John’s at Madison Square Garden. Every team on Creighton’s schedule down the stretch, including the Red Storm, has something to play for, whether it be an NCAA Tournament berth for bubble teams (St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova) or a high seed (Marquette).

“We saw it in New York on Sunday, a team that certainly has enough talent and you’re just going to get their best shot,” Coach Greg McDermott said. “We got it against St. John’s and, unfortunately, looking back at the game, I probably liked the way we defended some of their stuff maybe better than I thought during the game. They made some tough ones, we had some decent looks. We probably missed more shots at the rim than in any game that we have all season. But with a team like Seton Hall, a team like Villanova, we’re going to get their best shot, and of course Marquette is always a great rivalry game for us.”

Kalkbrenner said the key on Tuesday will be matching Seton Hall’s intensity.

“We were really focused and had high intensity going into Butler and as any competitive team does, they’re going to do the same thing coming into here,” Kalkbrenner said. “So you’ve just got to match it and maybe they come out playing super hard the first four or five minutes, but as long as you weather the storm and keep doing what we do and trust in our game, it will play out well for us.”

Seton Hall (18-9, 11-5 Big East) features a top-50 defense and the 16th-best offensive rebounding percentage in the country. Farabello said a big focus in practice this week has been preparing to deal with the Pirates’ physicality and the way they switch on defense.

“They are so physical, I think one of the most physical teams that we play,” McDermott said. “Kadary Richmond is just a really hard matchup, he’s got such great pace about his game and he gets to his spots. We’re one of the best at defending the rim and they’re one of the best at scoring at the rim, so something’s got to give. I think [Al-Amir] Dawes is playing at a really high level. I think Dre Davis has to be among the handful of guys for most improved player in the Big East this season. Then [Jaden] Bediako has provided a really solid defensive presence and then does some really good things offensively as well. So it’s a pretty complete team.”

Richmond, the Pirates’ 6-foot-6 point guard, is averaging 16.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists. He recorded a triple-double in the first game against Creighton with 21 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds, but the Jays held him to 8-for-32 from the field.

“Force him to take the tough shots,” Farabello said of the key to guarding Richmond like Creighton did in the first meeting. “He has the ball in his hands a lot, he’s the head of the snake. He’s another player that it’s really, really hard to guard; just make him take those tough shots.”

Dawes (14.6 points per game, 36.3% from 3 on 6.3 attempts per game) and Davis (14.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per game) will be high on Creighton’s defensive scouting report as well as the duo scored 21 points apiece back on Jan. 20.

Kalkbrenner led all scorers in the first game with 28 points, attempting a career-high 23 shots while making 12 of them and adding nine rebounds and seven blocks to his line.

“I just think we got me a few shots early in the game that kind of established the rim presence and obviously it was a three-overtime game, so you’re going to have some loaded stats on that,” Kalkbrenner said. “But we just got a few easy ones early on. Opportunities kept presenting themselves throughout the game and anytime we can get a layup at the rim, we’ll take it.”

Turnover disparity (13 to three) was a big part of the loss to St. John’s as the Red Storm outscored the Jays by 11 in points off turnovers. However, Creighton tied its season-low for turnovers with six in the first game against Seton Hall, despite playing an extra 15 minutes.

“As Mac always says, playing off two feet, not taking any gambles, being solid,” Kalkbrenner said. “We’re all really good basketball players and mistakes happen when you try to do too much or try to do something outside of yourself. So just playing within yourself, playing solid, playing fundamental is always key to limiting turnovers.”

Creighton is back at CHI Health Center Omaha for two games this week before hitting the road for the regular season finale at Villanova next week. McDermott said he’s looking forward to two more good home crowds to close out the year.

“The crowds have been great all season long and the students in particular have really shown out and created an environment that I think allows maybe some older people to act like they’re young again and just let your let your hair down, let’s have fun in this game, let’s not just be a spectator, let’s be a participant,” McDermott said. “The UConn game was as good as I can remember from start to finish. We may have had louder moments at times, but in terms of 40 minutes of the crowd being on their feet virtually every defensive possession, it was about as good as I’ve seen.”

Tipoff on Wednesday is set for 8 p.m. on FS1 with Matt Schumacker and Donny Marshall on the call.

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