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Creighton Bluejays: Where We Are and What's To Come

The Creighton Bluejays are 4-0 entering Monday's contest against Texas Tech. A 4-0 that includes zero single-digit victories, and zero opponents within the top-200 in KenPom. So, it's safe to say that this Texas Tech team will be Creighton's first real test.

Before we break that down, let's take a look at what we've learned from Creighton thus far through recapping the first four games.

What We've Learned

Baylor Scheierman is as-advertised.

- Scheierman is averaging 10 points and nearly nine rebounds per game, while shooting 42% from three point range. When he was picked up from South Dakota State in the transfer portal, this is exactly the production Greg McDermott & Co. had imagined.

Kalkbrenner is a real Big East Player of the Year contender

- Ryan made over 20 consecutive field goal attempts during the first stretch of the season, including multiple three's. He has been Creighton's leading scorer at 16.5 ppg. and has cemented himself as an early frontrunner for Big East PotY. Kalkbrenner has also made nearly as many threes (2) through four games than he did last season (3).

An older, wiser Nembhard

- Ryan Nembhard averaged over three turnovers per game in his freshman season before having a season-ending wrist injury against St. John's. This season, he has been much more in control, and has cut the turnovers while keeping his explosiveness. Nembhard has two turnovers and 27 assists in four games. Quite a step up for Ryan.

Creighton is one of the deeper teams in the country

- In the preseason, Greg McDermott noted how he thought this was the deepest team he has had at Creighton. And in the early going, that certainly seems to be the case. The 'second line' for Creighton, made up of Mitchell, Farabello, Miller, King, and Shtolzberg, have been exceptionally impressive. McDermott no longer needs to rely on his starters to play 90% of the minutes.

Improved shooting has opened up the floor

- We're early in the year, I know. But it certainly seems like many of Creighton's perimeter shooting woes from a season ago have been squelched. Trey Alexander and Scheierman are both shooting at or above 40% from three. Mason Miller and Francisco Farabello have both had success from downtown off the bench as well.


Enter Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders come into Monday's matchup with a 3-0 record (all against largely inferior opponents). After a mass exodus of talent (both graduates and transfer portal exiters), Mark Adams retooled the Texas Tech roster largely through transfers. There's not a lot of minutes continuity returning, but skill and quality coaching is still rampant in Lubbock.

Leading the way for the Red Raiders is Kevin Obanor, a stretch-4 with the ability to step out and hit the three at a solid clip. Before coming to TTU last year, he lit up the college basketball world when he led Oral Roberts to two March Madness victories.

There's a three-headed monster in the backcourt for Texas Tech that features Jaylon Tyson, Pop Isaacs, and De'vion Harmon. The most dangerous of which is Harmon, who averages 11.3 ppg and started over 80 career games at Oregon and Oklahoma before suiting up for Mark Adams.

Texas Tech also utilizes another familiar name to Creighton fans, North Carolina transfer Kerwin Walton. Creighton was a finalist for Kerwin Walton both when he came out of high school and when he entered the portal this past year. Big man Daniel Batcho (9.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg) mans the middle for TTU. He will be the first real high level interior threat Kalkbrenner has had to defend this season.


Three Keys For Creighton

Win the interior battle

- Texas Tech was banking of Fardaws Aimaq (18.9 ppg, 13.6 rpg at Utah Valley) to be their interior enforcer. Instead, Aimaq has battled a foot injury and will likely remain out of commission until after the Maui trip. With Aimaq out, there's not a lot of size behind Daniel Batcho. Attacking Batcho off the bat could provide benefit to Creighton in more ways than one.

Continue to get the bench spark

- Guys like Mason Miller, Shereef Mitchell, and Fredrick King have brought a positive impact when they have entered the game. A key to Creighton's success is to be able to rest Kalkbrenner, Kaluma, Nembhard, etc. and still play effective basketball with them on the bench. Mason Miller is shooting 83% from three, and Fredrick King is shooting 61% and averages a block per game off the bench.

Lock down Obanor

- Kevin Obanor has scored 20+ points 25 times in his collegiate career. He's a true-blue scorer that can do it in a myriad of ways. He's strong, fast, and pairs a solid jumper with good post moves. Fortunately for Creighton, Arthur Kaluma matches the 'unique combination of strength, speed, and a jumper'. That matchup will certainly be the one to watch in this contest.



The Jays look like a much more balanced team early on in the season. The lack of frontcourt depth without Aimaq will mean a bevy of opportunities for Kalkbrenner and King. Kevin Obanor may be a mismatch for a lot of teams, but Arthur Kaluma matches up fairly well, and should be able to keep Obanor at least somewhat contained.

I wouldn't be surprised to see quite a few lead changes, but I'd bet Creighton pulls away just enough in the second half to secure the victory. Largely in part to their depth with the ability of keeping the starters fresh, as well as the renewed perimeter shooting prowess.

Give me Creighton, 74-69.


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