A busy schedule that features games every Wednesday and Saturday for the next 3 1/2 weeks awaits No. 8 Creighton.
A seven-day respite before the Bluejays’ Saturday visit to Butler offered a welcome respite.
“This week couldn’t have come at a better time,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said.
Winners of six straight since losing their conference opener, the Bluejays (10-2, 6-1 Big East) have concerns nonetheless.
Point guard Marcus Zegarowski, the preseason Big East Player of the Year, missed the team’s most recent game, a 97-79 home victory against St. John’s on Jan. 9, due to a hamstring injury.
Although sophomore reserve Shereef Mitchell contributed 10 points and three assists in his third career start, he also provided a question mark after sustaining a sprained ankle late in the game.
McDermott said Mitchell was unable to practice early in the week, but he could be ready to face the Bulldogs. Meanwhile, Zegarowski, the team’s second-leading scorer at 14.1 points per game, was listed as day-to-day.
“I’m hopeful as we get closer to the weekend we’ll continue to see improvement,” McDermott said. “But with the stretch that we have coming, now’s not a time to push something like that. So we’re being careful.”
After facing Butler (3-7, 2-5 Big East) in Indianapolis, Creighton will stay on its two-games-a-week schedule until getting a break from Feb. 14-23.
Balance continues to buoy the Bluejays, who have five players averaging double-figure scoring. Joining Zegarowski in that department are Denzel Mahoney (14.7 points a game), Damien Jefferson (12.0), Christian Bishop (11.6) and Mitch Ballock (10.3).
Still, McDermott knows a bustling stretch like this can test even the deepest teams.
“We talk all the time about being ready all the time if your number’s called,” McDermott said. “We hope we don’t have to be without guys for very long, but it’s our expectation that the next guy’s going to be ready.”
Butler has lost four of five, including a 69-57 defeat at St. John’s on Tuesday. A surge of seven straight made field goals brought the Bulldogs to within 55-51 with just over nine minutes to play, but the Red Storm responded with a 10-1 run to distance themselves again.
Jair Bolden scored 17 points, hitting 5 of 12 attempts from behind the arc, but the rest of the Bulldogs couldn’t match his efforts from 3-point range, going 1-for-12.
A lack of ball control also doomed Butler, which committed a season-high 16 turnovers.
“We made some poor decisions with the ball (Tuesday),” Bulldogs coach LaVall Jordan said. “Not all of the turnovers were due to their pressure. I thought we allowed them to dictate and speed us up. We will grow our toughness and stay the course.”
Bryce Nze pulled down 14 rebounds against St. John’s while Bryce Golden (12 points) and Aaron Thompson (10) joined Bolden with double-figure point totals.
The Bulldogs were without Chuck Harris, the team’s third-leading scorer behind Bolden and Thompson, as he recovers from a knee bruise.
Creighton leads the all-time series 12-9, with the home team winning each of the past six meetings.
–Field Level Media