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Game Recap: Creighton 88, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 51

Despite a sloppy second half from the Bluejays, they still pulled away from the Golden Lions to net their eighth victory of the season.

Dave Weaver-USA TODAY Sports

After a nine-day layoff, the Creighton Bluejays returned to the court Tuesday night for a matchup with the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions. In their four previous meetings, Creighton was victorious. In their fifth, that trend continued. The Bluejays were able to decisively win in Omaha over Arkansas-Pine Bluff 88-51. The win was the eighth victory on the season for Creighton, who remained undefeated inside CenturyLink Center Omaha.

Coming into the game, one of the biggest mismatches statistically was the 3-point shooting of Creighton versus the 3-point defense of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Shockingly, the Bluejays’ layover appeared to hamper their 3-point shooting. While they were able to nail 10 3-pointers on the night, Creighton shot just 33.3 percent from the 3-point line. The usual suspect for stellar 3-point shooting, senior Ethan Wragge, found himself to be struggling on the evening. While he sank four 3-pointers for 12 points, they came from 11 attempts from deep. The sharpshooter finished the game with just a 36.3 percent 3-point field goal percentage.

Doug McDermott was his usual self from the field on Tuesday evening. While he shot just 45.4 percent, he got to the free throw line early and often, and made the absolute most of it. The senior from Ames made all 13 free throw attempts he took from the line, contributing to Creighton’s incredible success from the free throw line on the night. The Bluejays as a team finished 24-26 (92.3 FT%) from the charity stripe. McDermott finished with 25 points in 29 minutes, and added nine rebounds as well.

Tevin Hammond of Arkansas-Pine Bluff is the best offensive player for the Golden Lions and it was imperative for the Bluejays to gameplan for him. While Creighton came away with a victory, Hammond had a stupendous night in his own right. He scored 22 points, shot 46.67 percent from the field (7-15 FG%), played all 40 minutes, and had five assists to go along with three rebounds. While Arkansas-Pine Bluff lost their eighth game in a row, Hammond was unstoppable from bell to bell. Credit to him for playing well despite a very good defensive effort from Creighton.

We have seen in the past that they have struggled to jump out of the gate after long layovers between games. However, as we near January, that problem seems to be resolved. Since their tough loss to George Washington in the Wooden Legacy Tournament, they have gotten off to great starts in each of the last few games, including tonight when they built up a 28-9 lead by the 8:59 mark in the 1st half, and carried a 22-point lead after the first 20-minute sequence. It seems clear that Greg McDermott has seemed to thwart this issue as conference play looms.

But, competition could also be playing a hand in this recent stretch. But, they will have a chance to measure themselves up against a very good team this Sunday. On Dec. 22, the Creighton Bluejays welcome the California Golden Bears (8-3) to CenturyLink Center Omaha. That game is at 7:00 p.m. ET and will be broadcasted on FOX Sports 1.

Grading the Bluejays

Doug McDermott A- What more can you say at this point? McDermott did well enough from the field, was aggressive in getting to the FT line, grabbed rebounds all evening and scored in bunches yet again. Tonight was just the ordinary type of performance from McDermott, and that is a very good thing.
Austin Chatman B- Chatman could not do well in covering Hammond and also did not do so well offensively. He only scored two points (although getting the one attempt to sink) and picked up two assists and three rebounds. But, he did record two steals and found himself more than serviceable, bad defensive performance or not.
Jahenns Manigat B- Manigat may not have been efficient tonight (2-6 FG%) but he was certainly aggressive enough to get three trips to the free throw line. Each time, he made his shots, and he finished with eight points, three assists and two rebounds. A very good night, in spite of poor defense on Hammond, for Manigat, who had a spectacular made 3-pointer at the end of the first half.
Grant Gibbs C+ Offensively, Gibbs could barely scratch the scoresheet. He scored just two points on two made free throws and came away with two assists, but in 26 minutes Gibbs contributed defensively, stopping many of Arkansas-Pine Bluff's bigs. You would like a more complete game from Gibbs like we have seen from him lately, but it was a good enough effort to log that many minutes.
Ethan Wragge B- While he did score 12 points, his inefficiency simply cannot be ignored. Usually, Wragge hits his shots at a much higher rate and in all likelihood, this could just be a flash in the pan. Against Cal, he will need to bounce back  as he is far and away Creighton's best perimeter shooter. That isn't named Doug McDermott, at least.
Devin Brooks B+ After a tough stretch for the JUCO transfer, Devin Brooks bounced back very well in this outing. He scored eight, dished out five assists, and grabbed six rebounds and even had a block. This all in just 18 minutes played. This was certainly a positive step for Brooks.
Will Artino A- It might appear that Will Artino has found his role with the Creighton Bluejays.  Ever since he accepted a role to the bench, Artino has performed much better. In 14 minutes played, Artino scored 10 points and picked up 3 rebounds. His defense underneath the basket was also very good, limiting the chances that many of the Golden Lions big men had.
Isaiah Zierden B+ Much like Dingman, Zierden had a very good night from the floor after coming off the bench. In 13 minutes played, he scored six points off of two made 3-pointers and added a steal and an assist, too.
Avery Dingman B+ A very solid night for DIngman, who scored 7 points in 11 minutes logged. He picked up three rebounds as well, and shot 75 percent from the floor. A great effort, indeed.
Greg McDermott A- When you win by 30+ points, you are generally doing something right. McDermott used a very good rotation Tuesday evening and his offensive sets were both effective and very fun to watch. It was a bit of an eyesore to see Creighton struggle out of the second half, as it appeared that they were sleepwalking through it. But, Creighton eventually pulled away and Greg allowed his bench players to log minutes and finish off the ball game. A very good performance.