The Creighton men’s basketball team made 12 3-pointers and used a 17-2 second-half run to take care of IUPUI 90-65 on Saturday afternoon at CenturyLink Center Omaha.
The Jays’ 3-point total against the Jaguars was their second-highest of the season. Creighton made 15 against UTSA on Nov. 17.
Junior guard Isaiah Zierden led the Bluejays with 17 points and five 3s.
Creighton (7-3) led by 11 points at the half and the Jaguars closed the margin to single digits four different times in the opening stages of the second half, but the Bluejays thwarted any major comeback with a 17-2 run to take a 24-point lead, 71-47, with 9:21 to play.
Freshman forward Khyri Thomas started the run with a three-point play on a fast break.
Four of the next five made field goals for Creighton were from 3-point territory.
“We have a lot of guys that can score,” sophomore forward Toby Hegner said. “Props to [Maurice Watson Jr.] and everyone else who was just finding the open man; it gave everybody the opportunity to get up a shot and I feel that once you give us that opportunity we’re going to make that shot more times than not.”
The Bluejays finished Saturday with 20 assists on 32 made field goals, while Watson led the Jays with 10 helpers.
Creighton closed the game shooting 59 percent from the field, including 68 percent in the second half.
The Bluejays’ offensive production also helped their defense.
“We were getting stops and limiting them to one shot, and that was crucial,” Zierden said. “It allowed us to build that run. We can score in bunches, but if we don’t get stops the run really doesn’t matter.”
The Jaguars went 1-of-8 from the field during the Bluejays’ offensive outburst.
Overall, Creighton held IUPUI to 32 percent shooting on Saturday.
“To hold them to 32 percent is a credit to our guys,” coach Greg McDermott said, “especially with the condition that we were in.”
Junior forward Cole Huff and senior center Geoffrey Groselle both started the game despite dealing with injuries, freshman guard Ronnie Harrell Jr. needed stitches during the game after taking an elbow to the chin and Hegner played the majority of the second half with a bum ankle.
The Bluejays never trailed during the opening 20 minutes, but IUPUI built some momentum with a three-point play to end the half. Following a Creighton turnover, Darell Combs went coast-to-coast and converted a layup while being fouled by Hanson. The junior guard converted the free throw and cut the deficit to a manageable 11 points, 40-29.
Combs scored 15 of the Jaguars final 17 points of the first half.
IUPUI (3-9) came out of the break scoring on its first two possessions and kept the game within striking distance before Creighton built a large advantage and never led by less than 19 points during the final 10 minutes of the game.
Saturday’s victory came three days after an emotional win over in-state rival Nebraska.
The Bluejays found a way to move past the victory over the Huskers and prepare for the Jaguars.
“We came back and I think we did a really good job both days in practice of really focusing in on the [IUPUI] personnel as well as their plays that they run,” Zierden said. “I think we got over the Nebraska win within that 24 hours like I said we needed to do.”
Creighton will not play for a week because of final exams. The Jays travel to Norman, Oklahoma to face the No. 7 Sooners on Saturday.
“What we did tonight was Creighton basketball,” Hegner said. “We shared the ball, we moved the ball, we did what we had to do on the boards [and] defensively, and that’s what we’re going to have to do in order to compete with Oklahoma. We have a week off so we’re going to have a lot of days to prep for them and we’re going to have to stay focused and lock in.”
Buddy Hield leads Oklahoma (7-0) with 22.1 points per game.
Last season the Bluejays trailed by 18 points in the second half, but defeated the No. 18 Sooners 65-63 at CenturyLink Center Omaha.
Creighton and Oklahoma (7-0) are scheduled to tip-off at 1 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPNU.