Game Preview: Creighton vs. Arkansas Pine Bluff

Dave Weaver-USA TODAY Sports

After a long layover, the Bluejays are back on the court. They welcome Arkansas Pine Bluff to Omaha on Tuesday night.

Teams: Creighton (7-2) vs. Arkansas Pine-Bluff (2-7)

Day: Tuesday, Dec. 17

Time: 8:00 PM ET

Location: Century Link Center Omaha; Omaha, Neb.

TV: FOX Sports 2

Radio: 1620 KZON-AM (Creighton)

Creighton Storylines

The last time that we saw the Creighton Bluejays, they beat their in-state rivals very soundly. Back on Dec. 8, Creighton defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 82-67, and the game was never all that close. The Bluejays have been able to be so successful this season thanks to terrific 3-point shooting. Their 3-PT FG% is 44.2 percent, which ranks fifth in the nation. Only Connecticut, Colgate, Indiana St., and Rider are better than Creighton at shooting from the perimeter this season. This could spell bad news for their opponents, as the Arkansas Pine-Bluff Golden Lions are one of the worst teams in the nation at defending the 3-point shot. The Golden Lions will walk into this game on Tuesday yielding a 3 PT FG% of 43.1 percent, which is good for 345th in the nation. This could present itself to be the very definition of a matchup problem.

With the long layover, there may be a question as to whether or not Creighton starts off slow. Although they were able to avoid that in their last two contests, it was an issue for much of November when Creighton was playing roughly one game a week. Now, with an eleven day break between the last time that the Bluejays too the floor, it's going to be very important for Creighton to get off to a hot start once again. They simply cannot afford to continue to play close with teams that they simply overmatch. In this instance, that's the case, and Greg McDermott will have to prepare his team well going into this game.

Arkansas Pine Bluff Storylines

It will be tough sledding for the Golden Lions in this game, having lost seven consecutive games in a row going into this contest with Creighton. In those losses, Arkansas Pine Bluff has lost by an average of 20.42 points, with just two losses being by a single digit margin. Two things that the Golden Lions have been able to do well this season is force turnovers and steals. Through nine games this season, Arkansas Pine Bluff's defense ranks 10th in the country in Defensive Turnover % and Steal %, at 23.8 and 14.3 percent respectively. They do play one of the best teams at preventing turnovers from occurring, but if they can create enough chances via turnovers, they should be able to hang with the Bluejays.

One of the leaders in Arkansas Pine Bluff's ability to wreak havoc by forcing turnovers has been one of the Golden Lions' best players this season. Tevin Hammond ranks 20th in the nation in Steal %, coming away with swipes 5.2 percent of the time he attempts them. Hammond is also scoring 11.1 points per game and is dishing out 4.1 assists per game, with the latter being a team high. Given that he leads the team in possession percentage (24.7 percent) and shots percentage (25.3 percent) you should expect Hammond to have the ball in his hands more often than not when the Golden Lions take the floor. He will be one to watch.


X Factors

It may not necessarily be a player in this instance, but an "X Factor" for this game might be the Bluejays attacking the rim. The Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions have been less than stellar in defending the rim through the first nine games of the season. The Golden Lions are yielding a FG% of 66.3 percent at the rim this season. Teams are taking advantage of this weakness, as well. This season, teams have taken 41 percent of their shots against the Golden Lions at the rim, which is by far the most when teams play them. So look for players like Doug McDermott, Devin Brooks, Will Artino and Zach Hanson to take advantage of this and help their own cause.

Marcel Mosley has been a very effective shooter for the Golden Lions. Mosley's TS% is 56.4 percent, a team high at a minimum of 40 FGA. Additionally, Mosley is scoring 9.9 points per game and has been very effective at the free throw line, as well. Mosley, a senior guard from Marion, Ark. is shooting 88.8 percent from the stripe. It is not as if Mosley is getting to the line at a minimal rate, either. This season he has accounted for 25 free throw attempts, and has sank 22 of them. If he can attribute scoring, the Golden Lions could be in good condition to give the Bluejays a scare.

Four Factors

Factor Creighton Arkansas Pine Bluff
Effective FG% 59.1 45.7
Turnover% 15.9 24.7
Off. Rebounding% 28.8 29.9
FTA/FGA 34.9 31.8

The Prediction

When you have one team on one side of the coin that shoots the 3-point ball well, and another team that is abysmal at defending it on the other side of the coin, chances are that is going to be a recipe for a humongous mismatch. Even further than that, there is no skating around the fact that the Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions rank near the cellar in most statistical categories. If Creighton comes out on fire like they did against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, then this could prove to be a very long night for Arkansas Pine Bluff, who is searching for answers at the moment.

Creighton 90 Arkansas Pine Bluff 65

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