Marcus Zegarowski was a late scratch in Creighton’s matchup against St. John’s Saturday. Even without their star point guard, the Bluejays were in total control of the game. Shereef Mitchill got the start and showed poise running the offense while Alex O’Connell and Ryan Kalkbrenner stepped up coming off the bench.
While no Bluejay could slow down Julian Champagnie (16 points on 6-8 shooting) in the first half, the entire Creighton offense couldn’t be stopped. By halftime, seven Creighton players had 5+ points. O’Connell and Kalkbrenner had nine points each off the bench. Creighton’s lights out shooting, 22-37 from the field and 10-20 from three, led to a commanding 56-39 lead at the break.
After Creighton expanded their lead to 20 points early in the second half, St. John’s made an admirable comeback attempt to keep the game interesting. Posh Alexander hit a layup with 6:10 left to cut the lead to 11, but that would be as close as St. John’s could get. A couple of late threes would put the Red Storm away as Creighton won 97-79.
Creighton (10-2, 6-1) proved why they are one of the best teams in the country. Despite their best player sitting out, they had a dominating performance. Their balanced attack resulted in six players finishing in double figures led by Denzel Mahoney who had 24 points. Alex O’Connell’s (often referred to as “the Duke transfer) confidence and fit within this offense appears to be growing. The Duke transfer finished with a season high 16 points while shooting 6-7 from the field (4-5 from 3) in 17 minutes. O’Connell looked like a dynamic playmaker today which only makes Creighton’s high powered offense even scarier.
St. John’s (6-6, 1-5) aggressive defense was no match for Creighton’s high powered offense. They couldn’t do enough to force Creighton off the 3 point line (Creighton shot 16-36 from 3) or create enough havoc to cause enough turnovers (Creighton had only 11 turnovers compared to 25 assists). Champaignie did all he could do, finishing with 33 points and 10 rebounds, but only one other Red Storm player joined him in double figures: Marcellus Earlington added 13 points.
Creighton has a week off before traveling to Hinkle Fieldhouse to take on Butler next Saturday. This will be their first matchup of the season. Butler is 3-5 (2-3 in Big East), but recently got back key guard Aaron Thompson who returned from an ankle injury.
St. John’s next matchup will also be against Butler at home on Tuesday January 12th. This will be their first matchup of the season.