Creighton men’s basketball improved to 2-0 on the season with a come-from-behind 75-69 victory on Sunday against East Tennessee State at CHI Health Center Omaha.
Creighton found itself in a tough spot down 12 points after an East Tennessee State 3-pointer with only 7:19 left in the game.
However, the Bluejays managed to find another gear from that point on by allowing only six more points and scoring at a blistering pace. Creighton was able to score in some fashion on 12 of its last 13 possessions in the game.
“Sometimes you just have to stick with it and you’re hoping for a run, that’s kind of how we’re built,” said coach Greg McDermott following the game. “But, to be outrebounded the way we were and turn it over like we did, were really fortunate to win.”
Creighton was outrebounded 40-22, with no individual Bluejay collecting more than three boards. While the Buccaneers turned the ball over 19 times, Creighton did it 16 times, including giving away nine steals.
The Jays’ final lead of six points was their largest of the entire game and came off the backend of an 18-2 scoring run after falling behind 63-51.
“I feel like in the first half we were kind of selfish,” said sophomore guard Damien Jefferson. “But then we found that group that wanted to do what coach wanted to do, and we obviously came out with the win.”
Jefferson finished with 14 points and a team-high two assists. Four points and an assist came during the Bluejays’ extended comeback run, in which he also crucially blocked a layup attempt while Creighton was up two points with a minute and a half left.
Sophomore guard Ty-Shon Alexander shot 8-for-13 from the field, 3-for-5 on 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 20 points.
“Early in the game he wasn’t really letting the game come to him,” said sophomore guard Mitch Ballock. “Once he took a deep breath and let the game come to him, he was making big plays.”
Ballock himself was the third Jay sophomore to finish the game in double figures with 10 points and a team-high three assists. He was also in the lineup for the critical run of play that saw Creighton take the lead, hitting a 3-pointer that got the Bluejays back within one point of the visitors.
“We got down and the group that got us back in it was three sophomores and two freshmen,” said McDermott.
“We threw a bunch of young guys out there that got us back in the game and found a way to win, and that’s going to help you down the stretch somewhere.”
The Bluejays now gear up for one of their biggest nonconference games of the year on Thursday at 6 p.m. in Omaha against Ohio State as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games.
Creighton then heads to the Grand Cayman Islands for the Cayman Islands Classic, first taking on Boise State on Monday at 6:30 p.m. followed by two more guaranteed games on Tuesday and Wednesday with opponents yet to be decided.