Not all things can stay perfect.
The Big East started off on the right foot in the 2019 Gavitt Games on Monday with DePaul’s blowout win over Iowa. But the conference hit a bump on the road out in Washtenaw County, Michigan, as the Big Ten’s Michigan Wolverines picked up a 79-69 win over the Creighton Bluejays.
Creighton kept things competitive in the first half of action. Mitch Ballock especially did so in the beginning, as he was responsible for the first eight Bluejay points on the board. They never let Michigan get out to more than an eight-point lead, and were actually leading the game at the half by three.
However, things unraveled right at the start of the first half. Xavier Simpson scored four quick points to bring Michigan ahead, and then a jumper by Isaiah Livers gave the Wolverines a three point lead. They and the Bluejays would trade blows until Michigan would start to pull away. After a Marcus Zegarowski 3-ball, which trimmed the Michigan lead to one, Livers answered with a jumper and then hoisted up a three that hit the bottom of the net. Michigan’s lead was increased to six points in the blink of an eye, and the Jays were sent reeling.
Christian Bishop slammed one home to decrease the deficit, but Michigan was quick to respond yet again. Two free throws from sophomore David DeJulius swelled the lead to six, and Livers dunked one in to make it an eight point game. Despite another three from Zegarowski, Brandon Johns Jr. laid one up after that and and Simpson did on the ensuing possession, which pushed the lead up to nine.
From that point on, Creighton wouldn’t get it closer than to five points, as the Wolverines put the clamps on them and went on from there. A 7-0 run off two jumpers from Jon Teske, a free throw from Simpson and two more from DeJulius capped things off towards the end of the game, increasing their lead to 12, the largest of the night.
The trio of Livers, Simpson and Teske were practically unstoppable. They knocked down 22 of their 35 combined shots from the floor (62.8 percent), with Livers leading the way with eight made buckets on 12 attempts. Teske made seven of his 12 while Simpson had seven of 11 made buckets. Livers also made a game-high four 3-pointers on seven attempts, and Simpson had two of his own.
They were a bit too much to handle for Creighton, who just couldn’t corral them. Especially so down the stretch, as they were responsible for 32 of the 41 points scored in the second half.
While Ballock of Creighton got eight points in the first few minutes, he only finished with 11 on the day. His hot start was cooled down as he only shot 4-of-10 from the floor. The leaders in points for the Jays were Zegarowski and Ty-Shon Alexander. Alexander led with 20 points while Zegarowski had 18. But they were not as efficient as their counterparts. Alexander shot just 9-of-22 from the floor and Zegarowski was 8-of-17.
Bishop was the only other player to near double figures for Creighton, as he had eight points on the night. Kelvin Jones had himself a nice night with six points and nine rebounds, which were the most for anyone on either side.
The biggest woes Creighton suffered here were on defense. While their offense was sluggish, they were absolutely cut up inside. Michigan scored on 21 of 30 2-point attempts and nine of 23 3-point attempts. Michigan owned them at the FT line, going 10-of-12, while Creighton could only amount two free throw attempts — which were each missed. They will simply have to do better, because this was a very worrisome performance to say the least.
Creighton will now pivot to playing the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs this Saturday.