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Sweep Complete: Creighton knocks off Butler 73-52

Creighton absolutely blew the doors off of Butler, again. Last time by 22 points, this time by only 21. Progress!

Here are a couple of things I took away from this game on each side.

Point Guard Play:

Ryan Nembhard just got off having the flu. I had absolutely no idea heading into this game, and if I had only watched the game, I would’ve had no idea. He was excellent. He had 12 points and somehow had 11 boards, despite being the smallest guy on the floor. He was excellent.

He let the game come to him, he never forced, and made some really nice plays. Coming off of the flu too, I thought he was spectacular.

On the other side, Eric Hunter Jr. had another really rough game. The ball has to come out of his hands. The offense slows down and they take many more long, contested twos. The ball seemingly never gets to the rim and he’s in a role that is set up for him to fail.

The offense is worse with him running it, and I don’t know why it hasn’t stopped. At some point, you have to make the change. At some point, you have to realize the starter isn't working and turn to the backup QB. Sometimes it doesn't work or change much, but at least you tried something different.

The offense looks so much better when Hunter isn’t forced to run it. He’s not effective as the lead in a PnR and shouldn’t continually be asked to do it. When Hunter was at Purdue, Jaden Ivey and Carsen Edwards ran the offense. Granted, those guys were incredible college players, but there’s a reason that he wasn’t the lead ball-handler. Harris and Lukosius need to have the ball more.

No Manny Bates:

Honestly, I thought Butler fared pretty well without Bates. It didn’t look much different than the Creighton game with Bates. I thought Thomas’s energy kept Butler in the game in the first half. Thomas played a pretty solid game and most definitely wasn’t the reason Butler lost this game. Thomas had three blocks and altered many more shots. Whenever Creighton got him away from the bucket, they scored, but that’s not on Thomas.

However, when Thomas went to the bench, freshman Connor Turnbull checked in. Turnbull played about nine minutes and Creighton attacked him relentlessly. Turnbull was able to knock down a couple of threes but other than that Creighton really torched him. He turned the ball over twice and Fred King absolutely had his way with him.

Turnbull frequently got out-muscled down low and held onto the ball a little too long offensively. He has the tools to become a player in a year or two, but he’s not there yet. He still needs time. Which is natural, for a freshman who wasn’t super highly recruited.

Kalkbrenner had his way in the second half and still was really effective defensively. He’s an excellent player. Kalkbrenner effectively altered a ton of Butler’s shot attempts and led them to take even more of these contested mid-range jumpers than natural. Which is really saying something.

Creighton’s Defense:

Creighton’s defense is one of the most underrated units in the conference. Creighton’s defense ranks higher than their offense, which would be very surprising for the average fan.

But, they do an excellent job of making teams beat them one-on-one. With Alexander, Scheierman and Kaluma all being very versatile defensively, they are able to switch just about every screen and make it so much harder for their opponents to score. Even if you can get past the Creighton defense, you have to try to score over the defending Defensive Player of the Year in the conference. So yeah, good luck there.

Creighton’s defense has been really, really good in conference play. They looked excellent against this pretty putrid Butler offense. Somehow, Butler was able to shoot the ball really well from three, and still be largely ineffective vs this Creighton defense, and that’s a real testament to their defense.

Final Notes:

Creighton’s season is on the way up. They are going to be a very scary draw for any team that finds them in the NCAA Tournament. This team is legit. The Kalkbrenner injury has to be factored into their seeding, too. Their only conference losses are at Marquette (w/o Kalkbrenner), at UConn and at Xavier, so all on the road against three of the best teams in the conference. All very understandable losses.

For Butler, this is another pretty embarrassing loss, in what has been a very rough season. Their only wins are over Georgetown, and at home to DePaul and Villanova. They’ve lost their six conference games by a combined 126 points, good for an average of 21 points per game. For comparison's sake, Georgetown has lost their eight games by 117 points. Hard to describe this season as anything other than a failure, really. The offense just hasn’t found a rhythm and Butler can’t compete against elite opponents. Aside from Kansas State, somehow.

I made this for a class project thing where we were making and producing a show, with part of it talking about the Big East and previewing some of the early season storylines. Apparently, they didn't use this graphic because they just forgot, so I wasted my time. Well no more, it's going here and is being used as the thumbnail for this. Checkmate, classmates!

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