December 21, 2017 / 4:34 AM / 6 months ago

Preview: South Carolina Upstate at Creighton

Creighton pushes the pace as well as any team in college basketball, outscoring opponents by nearly nine points per game on average in transition en route to boasting the eighth-ranked scoring offense in college basketball. The 24th-ranked Bluejays eye a fifth straight win Wednesday in their final tune-up before the start of Big East play next week when they host South Carolina Upstate.

Reaching the 90-point mark for the seventh time this season, Creighton raced out to a 25-point first-half lead and mostly coasted to a 90-81 victory over UT Arlington on Monday. “The speed that they play in is absolutely amazing. The way they pass the ball, the way they run in transition ... I don’t think I’ve ever played a team that’s better in transition than them,” Mavericks coach Scott Cross told reporters afterwards. The Bluejays scored 16 fast-break points in the victory - marking the third time in four games they have posted at least that many - which contributes to their 14th-place standing in Division I in field-goal percentage (51). The Spartans and their 313th-ranked scoring defense seem unlikely to pose much of a threat to those marks, although they managed to keep NAIA foe Coastal Georgia somewhat in check during Monday’s 83-75 home win to end a six-game slide.

TV: 9 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA UPSTATE (4-10): The Spartans shot a season-high 55.8 percent from the field Monday and were paced by junior guard Deion Holmes (14.1 points), who overcame a career-high tying seven turnovers to score a season-high 25 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Malik Moore (14.1 points, 5.6 rebounds) added 13 points and 12 boards for his second career double-double while also dishing out a career-high six assists and matching another personal best with three steals. Holmes, Mike Cunningham (10.9 points), Jure Span (10.1) and Ramel Thompkins (9.6) have each buried at least 24 3-pointers this season, but only Holmes (41.8 percent) and Span (44.1) shoot over 37 percent from long-distance among the group.

ABOUT CREIGHTON (9-2): Marcus Foster (19.8 points) exploded for 22 of his season-high 32 points in the first half Monday - the most points by a Bluejay before halftime since Doug McDermott had 27 in a 2014 Big East Tournament game against DePaul. “I got some pull-ups, got to the cup tonight, and then hit some 3s. I got to get that going, too, and not just settling for my 3s, to keep the defense off balance a little bit,” Foster told reporters following his fourth career 30-point game. Foster finished 4-for-8 beyond the arc as well to lift his 3-point percentage for the season to 42.5; the senior guard entered the season shooting 36 percent from long-range.

TIP-INS

1. Creighton was outscored 23-10 in points off turnovers Monday after enjoying a 50-4 advantage over the previous three games combined.

2. South Carolina Upstate leads the Atlantic Sun in 3-point makes (151) and attempts (425). Those marks rank fourth and second in Division I, respectively.

3. The Bluejays are 7-0 at home this season, blitzing opponents by an average of 29 points per game.

PREDICTION: Creighton 109, South Carolina Upstate 73

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