With such a quick turnaround it was a mismatch of styles tonight.
On one hand you had Loyola, who predicates their entire game energy into slowing things down til it drips like molasses. On the other you’ve got Creighton with a renewed vigor and an aptitude to fly.
In the end, Creighton won out.
It started with Martin Krampelj banging a three. Then another. And then another. In all total, Martin had 17 points on 4-6 shooting from beyond the arc. It’s hard to properly guard against a guy that’s impossible to replicate in practice on such short notice, yet Porter Moser’s squad learned their lesson early on what exactly Krampelj had in store for them tonight.
Creighton got lost on ball screens a lot. Loyola used backdoor cuts to gash the interior defense and broke open the vaunted hedge of Zeggy or Mintz and Martin from the paint. Not many teams - especially in the BIG EAST - were as well read as the Ramblers appeared tonight when it came to attacking that hedge.
As Clayton Custer and Marques Townes ran the pick and roll to a certain degree of precision with Cameron Krutwig, it certainly appeared as the game wore on that Loyola was going to counterpunch everytime the Bluejays swung. Instead, time and time again, Creighton cashed in to keep or extend their lead.
Loyola’s defense forced 15 Bluejay turnovers, which they turned into just 18 points on the other end. That’s credit in part to Creighton’s defense. Loyola routinely would have numbers to run, but refused to do so as is their M.O. They’d slow down the pace to a glacial cool, then throw up an errant shot or simply get their pocket picked when the pick and roll failed to accumulate any points.
It was Mitch Ballock, who was closely guarded from beyond the arc, who made the Ramblers pay inside. He took an over aggressive defense and slashed past them to the rim, accounting for all of his 10 points - he didn’t make a single three.
Marcus Zegarowski, now without any distracting pads on his hand, racked up 12 points on 4-9 shooting but managed to crash the glass and dictate the pace. It was with his steady hand that allowed Ty-Shon Alexander to find open passing lanes and cutters to the rim to account for 10 points and seven assists.
In all, the Jays played just well enough to get the win. They’ll face Memphis on either Friday or Monday since the CHI Health Center is going to be filled with * checks notes * Justin Timberlake fans?