No. 8 Creighton brings balanced attack into matchup with CSU


No. 8 Creighton boasts one of the highest-scoring offenses in the country, and Trey Alexander is a big reason why.

However, after averaging 21 points through the first four games of the season, Alexander was finally held in check on Wednesday.

Luckily, he won’t have to wait long for a chance to bounce back. The Bluejays are set to face Colorado State on Thursday in the championship game of the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, Mo.

Creighton (5-0) is coming off an 88-65 drubbing of Loyola Chicago, but Alexander finished with just eight points on 3-of-10 shooting. He also committed a team-high five turnovers.

Ryan Kalkbrenner and Baylor Scheierman stepped up for the Bluejays, though. Kalkbrenner logged a game-high 29 points, and Scheierman amassed 24 points and 12 rebounds.

For Bluejays coach Greg McDermott, that performance was proof that even when Alexander doesn’t have it going, Creighton is still dangerous.

“We’re a team that’s based on balance and unselfishness,” McDermott said. “If (opponents are) gonna beat Trey up and really be physical with him at every point of attack, then he’ll make plays for others and be a team basketball player like he is. …

“He’s the marked man because of the start that he’s off to.”

Balance has served Creighton well, as the Bluejays entered Wednesday with the 11th-best scoring average in the nation (92 points per game). That average dropped ever so slightly to 91.2 following the win over the Ramblers.

The Rams (5-0) also have relied on their offense to stay in the win column. Colorado State is averaging 87.8 points per game, and it recorded its second-highest point total of the season on Wednesday in an 86-74 victory over Boston College.

All five Colorado State starters scored in double figures, with Isaiah Stevens (18 points) leading the way. Josiah Strong (15), Joel Scott (14), Nique Clifford (14) and Patrick Cartier (10) also helped the Rams get off to their second 5-0 start in three seasons.

Scott has been particularly consistent, scoring at least 10 points in 52 consecutive games.

“Really gritty effort by our guys (Wednesday),” Colorado State coach Niko Medved said. “I thought we showed a lot of toughness from beginning to end.”

Although Creighton will be the Rams’ toughest challenge yet, Stevens is confident that Colorado State has the personnel to match up well with the Bluejays.

“We talk about it all the time. We’ve got an older group, a mature group with a mix of young guys as well that can really play at a high level,” Stevens said. “There’s not too much we haven’t seen with our different experiences in college basketball.”

Plus, Creighton will likely be without starting forward Mason Miller, whom McDermott said was doubtful for the Thursday game because of an illness. Miller, who sat out on Thursday, is averaging 7.3 points and five rebounds this season.

The Thursday game will be the sixth all-time meeting between the teams. Creighton is 3-2 against the Rams.

The Bluejays are seeking their third Hall of Fame Classic title after winning back in 2002 and 2004. Colorado State is competing in the event for the first time.

–Field Level Media

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