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Bluejays take on Longhorns in Austin

Your #7 Creighton Bluejays head to Austin, Texas to face off against Chris Beard's #2 Longhorns. There's plenty of fascinating storylines in a game that probably didn't even need any more intrigue than the rankings indicate. These are two of the very best in the country searching for another marquee win. Texas having toppled Gonzaga in mid-November, and Creighton outlasting Arkansas in Maui.


One of the major storylines is Christian Bishop taking on the Jays for the first time since leaving Creighton after the 2021 season. Bishop played in 90 games in a blue and white jersey, scoring 724 points (8.0 ppg). Ryan Kalkbrenner, who was Bishop''s backup during his freshman season, now will go head to head with him.


Creighton is currently ranked seventh nationally -- a tie for the highest ranking ever achieved in program history. A win in Austin tonight would likely secure the Bluejays their highest AP Poll ranking ever. Exciting time to be a Creighton fan, certainly. However, it will be no easy feat beating this Texas team that is dripping with talent and scorers up and down the roster.

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Scouting Texas


The Texas Longhorns are one of the deepest teams in the country. They play a true nine-man rotation led by a pair of transfers, Marcus Carr (Minnesota) and Tyrese Hunter (Iowa State). Hunter leads the way in scoring with 16.2 ppg while shooting 40% from deep. The frontcourt features four capable bigs: Dylan Disu (9.2 ppg), Dillon Mitchell (7.8 ppg), Christian Bishop (4.2 ppg), and Brock Cunningham (3.6 ppg). Dillon Mitchell was a standout in the 2022 recruiting class, while Disu has started the year off quite efficiently after a lackluster first year in Austin.


Sir'Jabari Rice is a wing scoring threat that spent five years at New Mexico State before opting to transfer to Texas for one final year. Another wing to watch out for is Timmy Allen, who has gotten off to a bit of a rough start. While Allen is only averaging 5.4 ppg and 3.2 topg, he was an incredible scorer at Utah before transferring. Allen averaged over 17 ppg in his last two years in Utah; it is only a matter of time before it starts to click for him this season.


The biggest factor with Texas is their defense. With four bigs and five guards/wings heavily induced into the rotation, they can play a physical, aggressive brand of defense without many repercussions. Texas currently ranks #4 in 2P% defense, #4 in eFG% defense, and #5 in defensive turnover percentage.


So, all in all, this defense is one of the best in the country. However, it has yet to face an offense that poses the challenges that Creighton's does. Don't get me wrong, Gonzaga's offense is fantastic but it's a different type of test than Creighton. If you slow Gonzaga down in transition, you can slow down their offense. Creighton hasn't played particularly fast this season and the vast majority of their offense comes in the halfcourt. We'll see how it shapes out.

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Three Keys + Prediction


Key 1: Get quality minutes off the bench. In the three games in Maui for Creighton, when all five starters were on the floor Creighton's +/- was +16. In total on the trip, Creighton was +12 -- so without all five starters on the floor at the same time, Creighton was a net negative. Similarly with Arizona, I anticipate Texas to attack the interior, which means Fred King has to be ready to spell Kalkbrenner from time to time. If Mason Miller (73% from three) and Francisco Farabello (3.3 ppg) can knock down a couple shots, that will go a long way.


Key 2: Limit turnovers. Texas is tough, physical, and aggressive on defense. When Creighton played Texas Tech in Maui, it took them 13-14 minutes to get their feet under them and control the basketball. If they do that in this spot, it may be too late to come back. From the tip, Creighton has to value each possession.


Key 3: Attack the offensive glass. In a battle as high profile as this one, any extra possessions you can be massive. Texas allows quite a few offensive rebounds so far this season. Despite a lackluster strength of schedule thus far, the Longhorns are 228th in the country in oREB% defense. If Kalkbrenner and Kaluma can exploit that a bit, I like Creighton's chances.


Prediction:


Creighton is more battle tested and more proven so far this season. I think Creighton comes into Austin and shocks more than just the Longhorns, but puts the whole country on notice as well.

I'll take Creighton in a tight one.

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