Freshman guard Mitch Ballock hopes to make it an even more special homecoming when his unbeaten Creighton team takes on 24th-ranked Baylor in the championship game of the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City on Tuesday. The 6-5 Ballock celebrated playing a little more than 30 minutes away from his hometown of Eudora, Kan. by scoring a season-high 22 points in the Bluejays’ 100-89 victory over UCLA in Monday’s semifinals.
“It’s great that he did that (Monday) in Kansas City in front of his family and friends,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott told reporters, “but this is what we talked about when we recruited him, nights like this. We are ecstatic that he stuck with us. He has a bright future ahead.” Ballock and the Bluejays will have their work cut out for them against Baylor, which extended its season-opening winning streak to four games on Monday with a 70-65 victory over Wisconsin. The Bears led by as many as 19 points in the second half before withstanding a rally attempt by the Badgers as they moved to 4-0 for the ninth time in 11 seasons. Senior guard Manu Lecomte has led the way for Baylor in the early going, averaging 21.5 points after registering 24 - and five assists - in the semifinals.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT BAYLOR (4-0): Lecomte, who started his career at Miami (Fla.), has gone 15-for-31 from 3-point range and missed only two of his 33 free-throw attempts in the first four contests while turning over the ball a total of three times. Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., a 7-foot senior forward, recorded his second straight double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds against Wisconsin and averages 13.8 and 10.3, respectively. Senior forward Terry Maston also has been productive (10 points, 8.8 rebounds) and freshman forward Tristan Clark is averaging 9.5 points after scoring seven in Monday’s win.
ABOUT CREIGHTON (4-0): Senior guard Marcus Foster continued his early-season scoring surge by recording 23 points to lead the way Monday, and he is averaging 20.3 overall while shooting 54.7 percent. Junior guard Khyri Thomas added 16 points and averages 17.3 overall, as he has gone 25-for-41 overall and 7-for-13 from beyond the arc over his first four contests. Ballock was 4-for-9 from 3-point range on Monday, improving his scoring average to 12 points, and Slovenian sophomore Martin Krampelj also is scoring in double figures (11 points).
1. Baylor junior G King McClure, who scored in double figures two of the first three games, was just 1-for-9 from the field on Monday.
2. The Bluejays are shooting 53.8 percent overall while the Bears are allowing opponents to make 39.3 percent of their shots.
3. Creighton has won 12 consecutive games during in-season tournaments.
PREDICTION: Baylor 78, Creighton 74