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.
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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.
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