No. 21 Creighton is reeling, losing four straight games with the potential of not having ill center Ryan Kalkbrenner against a hot Arizona State team in Las Vegas on Monday night.
Kalkbrenner did not suit up but was on the bench for the Bluejays (6-4) in an 83-80 loss to BYU on Saturday night at Las Vegas.
He is day-to-day and his status against a Sun Devils (9-1) squad riding a seven-game winning streak is unknown.
Creighton coach Greg McDermott said he did not know until an hour before tipoff against BYU that Kalkbrenner would not be available.
Kalkbrenner, a junior who is the reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Year, averages a team-high 15.9 points to go along with 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
BYU took advantage of Kalkbrenner being out by grabbing 16 offensive rebounds to Creighton’s four and finishing with 21 second-chance points. The Cougars outscored the Bluejays 42-24 in the paint.
Fredrick King, a 6-foot-10 freshman, made his first collegiate start in Kalkbrenner’s place and had four points with no rebounds in 18 minutes.
Baylor Scheierman, one of the Bluejays’ best 3-point shooting threats as a 6-foot-7 guard, led the team with 11 rebounds to go with 13 points.
Arthur Kaluma, a 6-foot-7 forward, was often pressed to play inside and scored a career-high 27 points on 8-of-14 shooting while making 4 of 7 3-point attempts.
Despite the lack of an inside presence, Creighton mounted a rally late with a fullcourt press after trailing by 10 points with three minutes left.
BYU clinched the victory on a second-chance putback by Dallin Hall with 11 seconds left.
“It’s kind of poetic how they won off an offensive rebound since they were killing us on the glass all game,” Kaluma said. “You can’t just attribute a loss to one play. We shouldn’t have been in that position to begin with if we did the right things.”
Arizona State is off to its best start since opening the 2017-18 season with 12 straight wins.
The Sun Devils’ 75-57 win at SMU on Wednesday is the largest road victory in coach Bobby Hurley’s eight-year tenure at the school.
“The more games we win, the bigger the target gets on us,” said Hurley, whose team trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half against the Mustangs. “So when we come to places like this, teams are prepared and ready to play.
“We didn’t get stops early in the game and they were hitting their threes. I thought in the second half, our defense was outstanding.”
SMU shot 32.7 percent from the field, marking the fifth time Arizona State has held an opponent under 35 percent this season.
DJ Horne led Arizona State with 22 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. Devan Cambridge had 13 points and Frankie Collins scored 11.
The Sun Devils defeated Creighton 58-57 on the road last season behind Horne’s team-high 12 points.
–Field Level Media