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Creighton downs Red Raiders in Maui; Arkansas next to bat

The Creighton Bluejays win in convincing fashion, 76-65, over the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Creighton's efforts were catapulted by a terrific second half, where they put up 45 points with zero turnovers. All five Bluejay starters finished in double figures, and all shot at least 40% from the field.


The Red Raiders came into the game with the #7 ranked KenPom defense, and that defensive prowess was felt early by the Jays. Creighton had 14 first half turnovers, including eight from Trey Alexander and Arthur Kaluma. However, once Creighton settled into the game, that pressure was almost a non-factor.

Creighton was able to hang around in the first half due to some good shooting. Despite totaling 13 less shots in the first half, they went into halftime tied with Texas Tech. Baylor Scheierman led the way at the break with nine points on 3-5 from three point range. Baylor was also the leading rebounder in the game with twelve.


After some halftime adjustments, the rest of the game was all Jays. Trey Alexander provided a massive spark out of the gate for Creighton in the second half, and continued it the rest of the way. He finished with 17 points. Arthur Kaluma made multiple highlight-reel finishes on his way to 18, a game high.

The main thing that separates Creighton from a lot of the other teams in college basketball is their abundance of options. They have a starting five where all five can shoot, distribute, and create for themselves. Double teaming anyone is a dangerous game -- that is something Mark Adams found out on multiple occasions. The Bluejays made Texas Tech pay with multiple threes following a post double team on Kalkbrenner.


Another number that stands out from the game is Creighton beating TTU 14-5 in second chance points. Fredrick King had a massive putback after Kalkbrenner exited the game in the first half. King played excellent minutes today. He went 2-2 from the floor with four rebounds and a block in just a handful of minutes. He also sealed off defenders well on multiple occasions that led to layups for his teammates. Having King play this well as a freshman this early on in the season is a wonderful sign.


All in all, Greg McDermott has to be thrilled with that result. Creighton got over 1.2 PPP against Texas Tech. The last time someone got over 1.2 PPP against that defense was March 7, 2021. Who did it? The Baylor Bears. Yes, 2021's national champion.

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Semifinal Matchup Against Arkansas


Creighton will take on Arkansas in the second round of the Maui Jim Invitational tomorrow night at 7:00 CT.


Arkansas starts and ends with athleticism. Ricky Council leads the way for Razorback scoring, at 18.7 ppg along with nearly four assists per game. Council, a Wichita State transfer, has very much been the straw that stirs the drink through Arkansas' 4-0 start.


Anthony Black has been a bit of a spark plug for Arkansas. He is a dynamic driver with an adept ability to finish around the rim. Black put up 26 points in their Maui quarterfinal win over Louisville.


Their star freshman Nick Smith Jr. has yet to play this season and it would be quite a shock to see Smith suit up against the Jays. Anticipate Council, Black, and Devo Davis to get nearly all of the backcourt run.


The Arkansas front line is a bit of a transfer moshpit. Makhi and Makhel Mitchell hail from Rhode Island, where they combined for 20.6 ppg this past season. Trevon Brazile (Missouri) and Jalen Graham (Arizona State) are two more frontcourt transfers in the mix. I anticipate Graham to be utilized a fair amount tomorrow due to his strength and tenacity.


Eric Mussleman is very much still finding and crafting his rotation. The minute splits and production have been quite erratic through four games. The one mainstay, however, seems to be team performance. The Razorbacks have looked quite dominant each time out.

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Prediction


Creighton certainly seems like much more of a known commodity. Arkansas is loaded with talent, and a Final 4 run doesn't seem unlikely -- but there is more road to be travelled for Musselman's squad before that happens.


If Kalkbrenner can stay healthy and the Jays can continue shooting the ball fairly well from outside, it's their game to lose.


Give me Creighton, 79-71.


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