Bluejay men’s basketball kicked off the 2019-20 season with a 95-63 exhibition win over Division II opponent McKendree.
Sophomore forward Christian Bishop led the way with a career game, putting up 21 points and four rebounds and going 7-for-7 at the free throw line. He said, “my teammates are the reason why I’m getting so open,” crediting a combination of his speed compared to other post players and Creighton’s host of shooters for creating openings.
Junior guard Mitch Ballock seconded Bishop on the cooperation between the post and shooting games. “When you put pressure on the rim with bigs, then everything else starts to open up…”
With junior center Jacob Epperson sidelined with a leg injury, Creighton turned to a combination of Bishop and senior center Kelvin Jones, a graduate transfer from Idaho State, to manage the post.
Bishop saw increased action toward the end of last season while Epperson was recovering from a previous leg injury, including a 10-point performance against TCU and nabbing 10 rebounds against Memphis during the NIT.
Jones put up 12 points and lead the team with 12 rebounds, finishing with a double-double in his first game as a Bluejay.
McDermott acknowledged the need for adaptability from players on a team plagued with injuries, including Epperson and senior guard Davion Mintz. McDermott said many players were playing out of their usual positions, including Bishop playing more as a center than a forward.
“It’s no secret we’re extremely shorthanded.”
Ballock and fellow junior guard Ty-Shon Alexander continued their reputations as top scorers for the Bluejays, tallying 14 and 17 points respectively.
After the game, Ballock said he resists the urge to shoot for shooting’s sake, even when his teammates encourage him to keep taking shots. “I’m just gonna shoot when I feel comfortable and when I’m ready to shoot,” Ballock said.
Ballock’s self-tempo paid off, and he shot 3-for-5 beyond the arc.
In addition to Jones, freshman guards Shareef Mitchell, Jett Canfield and Jalen Windham, as well as freshman forward Nic Zeil also took to the court for the first time at Creighton. The four combined for 19 points off the bench.
Creighton begins regular season play when they host Kennesaw State at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.