Creighton showed off its ability to bury teams with its deadly long-range shooting through its first five games, then promptly turned to a rookie post player when that well dried up its last time out. Fresh off the best game of his young career, freshman Justin Patton attempts to help the 12th-ranked Bluejays match their best start to a season since 2011-12 on Tuesday when they host Buffalo.
After entering Saturday’s game against Loyola (Md.) ranked first in 3-point percentage (50.8), Creighton misfired on eight of its first 10 3-point attempts - finishing 5-of-18 overall - and led by only five points at halftime while Patton picked up two early fouls. The 7-0 center scored 14 of his season-high 17 points in the second half as the Bluejays flexed their muscles thereafter, shooting 74 percent after intermission and outscoring the Greyhounds by 25 to cruise to an 82-52 victory. “He kept it simple. He showed some of the things he can do in the post. … The kid’s just going to keep getting better and better as we go,” coach Greg McDermott told the Omaha World-Herald. The Bulls are coming off a third-place finish in the Great Alaska Shootout last weekend but seem unlikely to put much of a scare into Creighton, as they are just over two weeks removed from getting routed 86-53 by another Big East foe in No. 7 Xavier on Nov. 14.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
ABOUT BUFFALO (4-2): Senior swingman Blake Hamilton (16.7 points, 6.7 rebounds) opened up the Bulls’ three-game stay up north with a career-high 36 points in a tight win against host Alaska-Anchorage and averaged 24.3 points and eight boards during the event. Nick Perkins (14.7, 8.2) posted his first career double-double in Saturday’s 74-72 triumph over Weber State with 18 points and 10 boards, and the 6-8, 260-pound sophomore forward has scored at least 11 points in five of six contests while grabbing at least seven rebounds in every game. Willie Conner (13.4 points) is the Bulls’ other double-digit scorer and their top 3-point shooter at 36 percent, knocking down at least one triple in every game.
ABOUT CREIGHTON (6-0): While Patton has scored in double figures in every game and finished 8-for-8 from the field, he wasn’t the only freshman big man to break out Saturday; Martin Krampelj replaced the injured Zach Henson in the rotation and nearly doubled his season output with 10 points in 16 minutes off the bench. Marcus Foster (17.7 points) has scored at least 15 points in every contest and is shooting 50.6 percent from the field - including exactly 60 percent in three of his last four - as well as 48.7 percent beyond the arc. Fellow guard Maurice Watson Jr. ranks second in the nation in assists (8.5), although he is coming off his worst overall game of the season, finishing with season lows in points (seven) and assists (five) versus Loyola.
1. Creighton is the only team in the country to shoot 50 percent or better in every game this season.
2. Hamilton, Perkins and Conner have accounted for 25 of Buffalo’s 31 made 3-pointers and 226 of the team’s 350 points (64.6 percent).
3. Patton has 17 dunks through six games this season. The most dunks any Bluejay has recorded in a single season during McDermott’s first six years was 36.
PREDICTION: Creighton 93, Buffalo 60