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Creighton dominates North Dakota State, 80-55

Defense turns into offense with 26 points off turnovers

Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament - Qr. Final Round

For the first time this season, the Creighton Bluejays put together a solid, all-around performance in their win against the North Dakota State Bison, 80-55. The Bluejays cleaned up their turnover issues that had been plaguing them all season, committing only six while forcing NDSU into 17 turnovers and giving Creighton a 26-2 advantage in points off turnovers. Creighton also had a balanced scoring effort, with 11 Jays scoring and four players in double figures. Solid night for the Bluejays overall, who held a first-half lead at home for the first time this season and did not let it go in the second half.

For much of the first half, defense and its exploits were keeping Creighton in the lead. North Dakota State gave up 12 turnovers but also shot 50% from the field. Creighton was shooting better than the Bison, going for 51.6%, but with 6 threes made for NDSU, the Bluejays were only up 8 going into half by the score of 40-32. Then, out of half North Dakota State would only manage 7 more field goals on the day, while CU managed 16 made field goals. Creighton found its rhythm, using Ryan Kalkbrenner down low a significant amount of times with great success; the big man shot 7-8 from the field and scored 17 points. This was also a big game for Shereef Mitchell, who missed the SIU-Edwardsville game with injury; he totaled 9 points to go with 2 assists and 2 steals.

Most on this team looked solid today, with few glaring flaws. Rim protection was great, with NDSU’s star frontcourt duo in Rocky Kreuser and Grant Nelson combining for 7-19 from the field, and 2-8 from inside the arc. No one on North Dakota State’s team made more than 4 field goals, and every Bison shot below 50% from the field. Creighton was outrebounded, but it obviously did not affect them today, nor were they outrebounded by a significant amount. Creighton also fouled more, but only sent NDSU to the line twice more than they were at the line. Again, an overall great day for the Jays.

Creighton was led by Kalkbrenner with 17, Arthur Kaluma with 11, and both Ryan Nembhard and Alex O’Connell with 10. Shereef Mitchell had his highest-scoring game of the season with 9 points, KeyShawn Feazell led the team in rebounds with 8 and had 6 points, Trey Alexander had 5 points, Modestas Kancleris scored his first 4 points as a Jay today, Rati Andronikashvili added 3 along with Ryan Hawkins, and John Christofilis made a mid-range jumper to add 2 points. NDSU was led by Dezmond McKinney off the bench with 13 points (6 from the stripe), Rocky Kreuser with 12, Maleeck Harden-Hayes with 10, and Grant Nelson with 9. No other player for NDSU had more than 5 points.

Creighton tallies win number 7 on the season to go to 7-1, while North Dakota State will fall to 4-3 on the season. Creighton’s next two games are a doozy; #19 Iowa State Cyclones come into Omaha on December 4th, and Creighton goes up to Sioux Falls to play the #12 BYU Cougars on December 11th. Creighton doesn’t have much of a break after that stretch, going back to Omaha to host Arizona State and currently #6 Villanova, before going to undefeated DePaul. It will be a daunting span of games, but this game will surely boost the confidence of the Bluejays moving forward.