Creighton men’s basketball officially started their season 1-0 with a close 78-67 win over Western Illinois on Tuesday at CHI Health Center Omaha.

The game started as a chance to shake off some more rust, as the Jays both trailed and led by as much as eight points in the first half and struggled to find consistency on both ends of the court.

“It’s good to start the season with a win,” said head coach Greg McDermott.

“It certainly wasn’t a thing of beauty.”

The Jays rolled out the same lineup as the exhibition game against Winona State, apart from senior guard Connor Cashaw starting in place of freshman center Samson Froling.

The Bluejays hot shooting, especially from the three-point line, helped them keep the game close in the first half as they shot 9-for-14 from three and 50 percent from the field. Junior forward Martin Krampelj paced the team with 10 points and 2 rebounds in the first half.

Sophomore guard Damien Jefferson made his presence felt often and early in his Bluejay debut, as he scored eight points and a team-high 12 rebounds, instrumental in Creighton’s 46-40 rebounding advantage over the whole game. He was instrumental in giving the Bluejays a spark, important as Creighton had scored just 15 points with seven minutes left in the first half.

Creighton continued to gather steam on offense throughout the game.

Four Bluejays scored in double-digits, and six different players made at least one three-pointer. The second half worked in favor more and more for the Bluejays as they overcame mistakes and started to pull away from the Leathernecks.

McDermott said that teaching this young group would be an ongoing task throughout the season.

Krampelj ended the game with 13 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore guard Ty-Shon Alexander contributed everywhere, ending with 12 points, six rebounds, four assists, a block and a steal. 

Creighton now prepares for the Cayman Islands Classic as they’ll first take on East Tennessee State at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.

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