No. 20 Northwestern faces its first test of the young season when it hosts Creighton on Wednesday. The Wildcats started the new campaign with back-to-back victories, including a 75-66 win over Saint Peter’s on Monday, and hope to slow down the Bluejays’ high-powered offense, which is averaging 100.5 points over their first two contests, as they search for their third win in four matchups against Big East opponents.
“I’m happy with the win, but we face a quick turnaround that sets up for a real high level game,” Northwestern head coach Chris Collins told reporters. “I have an amazing amount of respect for Creighton and coach (Greg) McDermott as they’re not just a good team, they’re a really good program.” The Bluejays will hit the road for the first time this season after beating Yale (92-76) and Alcorn State (109-72). Creighton has split its two most recent meetings with Northwestern, including an 87-79 victory on Dec. 11, 2012, and hopes to knock off a ranked opponent for the fourth time since the start of 2016-17 and extend its winning streak against Big Ten opponents to five games in the process. “We’re going to be tested against a team that returns everybody from an NCAA (Tournament) team a year ago,” McDermott told reporters. “It will be a heck of a challenge for us, but these are the games that teach you a lot about your team.”
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ABOUT CREIGHTON (2-0): Marcus Foster scored 23 points on 8-of-9 shooting in the win against Alcorn State to finish in double figures for the 20th straight time, which is the longest streak since Doug McDermott did it in 28 consecutive games. Mitch Ballock contributed 15 points off the bench while fellow reserves Kaleb Joseph and Ty-Shon Alexander tallied 10 apiece against the Braves. Khyri Thomas went 1-of-3 from beyond the arc to extend his streak of consecutive games with a 3-point field goal to 16 and Martin Krampelj set a career high with 12 rebounds.
ABOUT NORTHWESTERN (2-0): Senior guard Bryant McIntosh led the way with 17 points and equaled his career high with seven rebounds in the win against Saint Peter’s to move past Jim Burns (1965-67) for 13th place on the program’s all-time scoring list. Dererk Pardon added 15 points and three assists while Gavin Skelly added 14 points and six rebounds to help the Wildcats win the battle of the boards 34-16. Scottie Lindsey scored 12 points and dished out six assists to finish in double figures for the seventh straight game dating back to last season.
1. Northwestern has held 20 opponents to 65 points or less since the start of the 2016-17 season.
2. Creighton has won 30 straight games when scoring 100 points or more.
3. McIntosh has made 14 consecutive free throws to start the season.
PREDICTION: Northwestern 78, Creighton 77