Teams: Creighton (1-0) vs. UMKC (0-1)
Day: Monday, Nov. 11
Time: 8:00 PM ET
Location: CenturyLink Center Omaha; Omaha, Nebraska
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: 1620 KZON-AM
It was a banner night for the Creighton Bluejays in their season opener. One of the many reasons for that was the stellar play of their front court. Senior Doug McDermott and junior Will Artino combined for 32 points and nine rebounds on the night. In all, the Bluejays dominated in the paint, outscoring the Alcorn State Braves 40-14 and out-rebounded them 43-24. The Kangaroos of UMKC could pose a bit of a challenge for Creighton however. In their meeting with Emporia State, UMKC picked up 42 rebounds of their own. 11 of those were picked up by senior forward Trinity Hall. Although they could be overmatched in talent, it could be an interesting matchup to watch.
The Creighton backcourt certainly proved one certain writer wrong on Friday night. Jahenns Manigat and Austin Chatman had quite a showing in Creighton's rout, going for a total of 19 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. Junior college transfer Devin Brooks, off the bench, provided a spark 15 points, five assists and six rebounds. The guards for Creighton could once again have themselves a great night on the floor. UMKC's guards yielded a combined 41 points from three of Emporia State's starting guards. Defensively, UMKC allowed for four of the Hornets' starters to get into double figures. Against Alcorn State, Creighton had five players in double figures of their own. Should the Bluejays have a great night of shooting again, they could once again outpace the opponent.
In their five-point loss to Emporia State, one thing that the Kangaroos did very was get to the free throw line. In all, UMKC got to the line 53 times. Once they were there, they shot somewhat effectively as well. They made 35 of their attempts, going for 66 percent from the line. The Bluejays only allowed the Braves to get to the line 15 times, but they were able to cash in, making 10 of those attempts. Creighton had five players with at least two fouls and nearly saw Doug McDermott foul out, finishing out with four fouls. On the flip side, UMKC would be wise to not let Creighton get to the line often. Creighton shot 72 percent from the line on their 36 attempts. The most aggressive player for Creighton to get to the line was Devin Brooks, who got to the stripe 10 times and made nine of those shots. The Kangaroos ought to be careful when Brooks is on the floor and not play too aggressively.
The Kangaroos have to shoot more efficiently to have any remote chance of staying with the Bluejays, who are coming off a 100+ point performance. UMKC may have scored 75 points, but did so on 53 shots, and only sank 19 of them (35.8 percent). Shooting from the perimeter has to be improved as well, as they made just three of 14 attempts from beyond the arc. It could be a bit of a tall task however, as the Kangaroos shot 32 percent from the 3-point line in the 2012-13 season, and certainly showed no signs of improvement in Friday's affair. When facing a team that can shoot and score with the best of them, like the Creighton Bluejays, you have to keep at their pace and not fall victim to inefficiency.
Devin Brooks could very well be the X-Factor for the Bluejays for the entirety of the 2013-14 season. I am zeroing in on him for this one, too. His aggressiveness to drive to the basket and get to the foul line should be something to watch in this ball game, with how UMKC was defensively in their game against Emporia State. But, the Hornets only got to the line 23 times, but that's most likely a testament to how they play. Brooks' court vision is exceptional as well, so some good looks for his teammates should come early and often once he starts to log his minutes.
From UMKC's perspective, Trinity Hall should look to build off of his performance on Friday. Against Emporia State, Hall scored 19 points and had 11 rebounds on 43.8 percent from the field. Hall added three steals to that line and was easily the best player on the court for the Kangaroos. I would bet on that trend continuing and if Creighton gets off to another slow start as they did against Alcorn State, Hall could very well make them pay if they are not careful.
In any event, this is another case where there is a pretty clear talent discrepancy on the floor. Creighton's efficiency should best UMKC's inefficiency, but Creighton has to nail the open looks that they receive when they can. They had a bit of trouble Friday night with doing that, especially from the three-point arc. The ability for UMKC to stop Doug McDermott is one of the biggest issues and it's unlikely that the Kangaroos have anybody that can do that. Elsewhere, defense could be a problem for the Kangaroos in the backcourt. Creighton could very well have yet another field day.
Creighton 95 UMKC 63