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Creighton Defeats Akron, Awaits Oregon in Round of 32

The Creighton Bluejays defeated the Akron Zips on Thursday, by a score of 77-60. It was an impressive win for Creighton, who will see Oregon to punch their ticket into the Sweet 16.

It wasn't all smooth sailing for the jumpshootin' Jays — late in the first half, Greg McDermott was forced to call a timeout with his team down three points. It was 34-31 Akron leading with 2:44 to play in the first half, and Creighton went for an 8-0 spurt to close the half.

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To go into the half with a five-point lead despite playing exceptionally sloppy basketball — the Jays chances looked quite good. The five-point discrepancy at halftime seemed a tad like fool's gold, as Creighton was clearly the better basketball team. In the second half, that thought was vindicated with Creighton climbing up to a 20-point lead at one point.

It was a balanced scoring effort for the Jays (among the starters, at least). Ryan Kalkbrenner led the way with 23 pts (9-14) while being guarded by the smaller Enrique Freeman. Ryan also impacted the game immensely on the defensive end. He had three blocks and made every bucket at the rim challenging.

Baylor Scheierman was introduced to the casual basketball fans today, as well. Scheierman knocked down consecutive triples in the first half in impressive fashion, all while gathering 13 rebounds on the day. Trey Alexander (19 pts), Steven Ashworth (10 pts), and Mason Miller (10 pts) rounded out the starters — all of which were in double digits.

When Mason Miller shoots the ball well, Creighton tends to do quite well. Creighton was 14-3 on the year when Miller made at least two three-point shots. He played one of his better games of the year on Thursday, hitting three of his five attempts from beyond the arc, and nabbing four rebounds.

Creighton as a team shot 56.5% from the floor, and 58.8% from downtown, nearly season highs. The spacing and ball movement were peak Creighton basketball. Making the extra pass, unselfishness, and understanding your role on each possession.

The Bluejays will face the Oregon Ducks and a head coach pretty familiar with Omaha. Dana Altman will coach against Creighton, after spending 503 games adorning the Creighton blue on the sideline. Altman has been quite complimentary of his time in Omaha and certainly this game will evoke a lot of memories for him, and the Creighton fanbase.

The Ducks have had an up-and-down year, largely thanks to injuries. This is the healthiest version of Oregon we've seen nearly all year, especially with N'Faly Dante (16.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg) playing at such a high level. Dante is a 7'1 fifth-year player that will give Ryan Kalkbrenner all he could ask for down low.

In Dante's last six games of the regular season, he shot 51-60 (85%) from the floor! Incredulously absurd statistic. He's only as good as his distributors, though, and Oregon has some good ones. Freshman Jackson Shelstad (53% eFG) brings some impressive bounce to the Ducks lineup. He pairs with Jermaine Couisnard in the backcourt, who put up 40 points against his former team in round one of this tournament.

Altman likes to switch up defenses quite proficiently. The Jays will see a healthy dose of matchup zones, true zone defenses, and man-to-man. With how many injuries Oregon has had this season, Altman has said he hasn't been able to introduce some things due to lack of practice time. He has seemed to 'empty the bag' the past couple weeks, with Oregon rounding into form to win the Pac-12 tournament and punch their way into the dance.

Creighton will have their work out for them on Saturday. Oregon isn't your typical 11-seed. These Ducks arguably have as talented of a roster as nearly anyone in this tournament.

Creighton's Keys to Victory:

  1. Control the paint - Dante has been incredible down the stretch. Winning the paint battle is fairly imperative in this one. Oregon doesn't shoot the three-ball very well. Own the paint.

  2. Limit turnovers - Creighton looked sloppy against Akron. Oregon creates a pretty good amount of steals with their length. Creighton needs to control the basketball.

  3. Knock down open threes - Oregon gives up a pretty good amount of looks from beyond the arc. Have to knock enough down to stay around.


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