The Creighton men’s basketball team attempted 25 field goals during the first half against Seton Hall on Saturday night. Of those attempts, 13 were from 3-pointers.
The casual observer knows that the Bluejays are not afraid to take shots from beyond the 3-point line.
Creighton has attempted at least 15 3-pointers in each of its past 98 games — the second-longest streak in the nation.
The Bluejays have also made at least one 3-point field goal in 735 consecutive games.
What has been different is their percentage of makes.
Creighton is shooting 31 percent from 3-point range through nine conference games and made only 14 over its past three games.
The Jays finished the nonconference schedule with 121 made 3s in 13 games and made 40.1 percent of its shots from beyond the arc.
“These guys are guys that have proven over the test of time that they can shoot the basketball,” coach Greg McDermott said, “and we’re in a little bit of a funk in that regard right now.”
Creighton has only 62 makes through the first half of conference play and ranks ninth in the Big East in 3-point shooting percentage (31.0).
The Bluejays made 6 of 23 3-point field goals on Saturday night.
Junior guard Isaiah Zierden — Creighton’s leading long-range shooter — made a career-high eight 3s against DePaul on Jan. 17. The Minneapolis native leads the conference with 57 total 3-pointers, but has cooled off since the start of Big East play.
Zierden holds the highest percentage of any Creighton player during conference play (36.9), but was one of four players who shot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc through the first 13 games of the season.
Over the past three games Zierden is only 5 of 20 from ‘3.’
Despite recent struggles, the junior guard still has more than twice as many 3-pointers than any other player on Creighton’s roster during Big East play. Through the first nine conference games, Zierden has 24 3-point field goals. No other Bluejay has more than 10.
Sophomore forward Toby Hegner and senior guard James Milliken are both 10 of 32 from 3-point territory and join Zierden as the only other players to shoot above 30 percent during the conference schedule.
“The bad shooting is not happening in practice,” McDermott said following Creighton’s loss to Seton Hall. “Obviously, if it’s happening every day in practice I’m not going to allow them to shoot those shots in games.”
The poor shooting in games is affecting the team’s record. The Bluejays are 1-4 when failing to reach the 30 percent from beyond the arc during conference play.
Over the past three games Creighton has shot 20.6 percent from 3-point territory (14 of 68) and lost two matchups.
“I challenged them in the locker room that when you’re in a slump you have to change your routine,” McDermott said on Saturday. “You can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results. We have to change up some practice routines and when they’re getting their shots and what they’re doing.”
The Bluejays hosted No. 12 Providence and National Player of the Year candidate Kris Dunn on Jan. 12. Creighton shot only 26 percent from the field and 22 percent from beyond the 3-point line, but its defense helped keep the game close.
The Friars shot only 30 percent from the field and made 4 of 24 3-pointers.
“We didn’t shoot the ball the greatest and we kept ourselves in the game with our defense, and we need to focus on that,” Hegner said following the Jays’ two-point loss to Providence.
Creighton’s defense has improved as its 3-point shooting has diminished. The Jays allowed No. 16 Villanova to shoot 68 percent on Jan. 2, but over the past seven games opponents have shot only 41.8 percent.
Creighton sits in a tie for fifth place in the Big East at 5-4 and face No. 3 Villanova on Wednesday night.
The Bluejays have four games remaining at CenturyLink Center Omaha and five on the road before postseason play.
Marquette is the only team remaining on Creighton’s schedule that it did not play during the first half of the Big East slate.
“Strange things happen in this league, and when you get in a funk you have to do what you can to make sure it doesn’t last very long and you get yourself out of it as quick as you possibly can because it can snowball on you in this league because there aren’t many easy marks,” McDermott said.