Derrick Marks, Austin Chatman

Did the same old No. 11 Creighton make their reappearance?

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Creighton was one of the best offensive teams in the country a season ago, finishing fifth nationally in offensive efficiency according to Kenpom.

Their problem was on the defensive end of the floor, ranking as the 178th best team. Namely, the Bluejays were the third-worst team in the country at forcing turnovers and were in the bottom-half nationally in effective field goal percentage, which is essentially a nerdy way of saying teams shot the ball really well against the Bluejays all season long.

This season was supposed to be different, and while no one was going to confuse the Bluejays with Louisville, there did appear to be an improvement through the season’s first six games. Creighton was 67th in defensive efficiency coming in. Small sample size, yes, but anyone watching Creighton play could see an improvement. Penetration was tougher, help side was quicker, shots were challenged. Things just didn’t look as simple for opponents.

That’s a good thing.

But it was a trend that ended on Wednesday night, as Boise State left Omaha with Leon Rice’s first win over a ranked team as head coach. Boise State shot 60.7% from the floor and 10-19 for three in an 83-70 upset of the Bluejays, scoring 1.277 PPP for the game.

That’s … well, it’s not good.

The problem is that Creighton was never able to get back into the game. Boise State opened up a double-digit lead early in the second half and the Bluejays simply couldn’t string together enough stops to make a serious run. The only time they did get three stops in a row, Creighton went on an 8-0 spurt in the span of about a minute, cutting the Bronco’s lead from 75-70.

I don’t need to tell you that Creighton cannot win basketball games this way. Creighton fans certainly know that. The team absolutely does. They wore shirts with their defensive ranking from last season on it throughout the preseason. The Missouri Valley has looked strong early on this season. Wichita State won at VCU. Northern Iowa was impressive in their losses out in the Bahamas. Illinois State and Indiana State both have some quality pieces on their roster.

And most importantly, all of those teams are willing and able to muck-it-up defensively. If Creighton can’t iron out these kinks on the defensive end, they’re going to have a tough time trying to bring home the league title.

The one thing I’m almost certain of here: I don’t think that practice is going to be very enjoyable for the Bluejays on Thursday after this performance.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the performance of Derrick Marks. 35 points. 13-19 from the floor. A bucket any time he wanted one. Throw in Anthony Drmic and Jeff Elorriaga, and you’ve got a pretty solid perimeter trio. The Broncos won’t compete for the Mountain West title this season — they may not even finish in the top half — but they’ll be a tough win on a nightly basis.

It’s also worth noting the value of this win for the MWC as a whole. Creighton is going to end up being highly ranked with a good RPI. And Boise State just beat them in Omaha. That’ll be a nice bump.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Colorado’s Tory Miller reprimanded by Pac-12 after biting opponent

Dusan Ristic, Tory Miller
AP Photo
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Colorado sophomore forward Tory Miller has been reprimanded by the Pac-12 and he also apologized for biting Air Force’s Hayden Graham earlier this week.

During Colorado’s win over Air Force on Wednesday, Miller was assessed a Flagrant 2 Dead Ball Technical Foul and ejected with 12:25 left in the second half after biting Graham during a loose ball.

In a release from the Pac-12, they announced reprimanding Miller, but he will not be suspended.

“All of our student-athletes must adhere to the Pac-12’s Standards of Conduct and Sportsman-ship,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in the release. “Regardless of Mr. Miller’s frustration and emotion, such behavior is unacceptable and he is being appropriately reprimanded.”

Miller also released his apology in the same release.

“I would like to apologize for my actions during the Air Force game. I would like to apologize to Hayden Graham, Air Force, my teammates and fans. It was a heat of the moment thing. I’m an emotional player, but I let my emotions get the best of me. I will use this as a learning experience and focus on helping my teammates and respecting my opponents for the rest of the season and beyond,” Miller said.

For Miller to not be suspended for this is good news for him and Colorado since he won’t miss any additional action, but did the Pac-12 make the right decision on this?


Michigan State’s Tum Tum Nairn battling foot injury

Lourawls Nairn Jr.
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Michigan State has climbed on the back of star senior wing Denzel Valentine early in the season but they’ll undoubtedly need more help as the season goes on if they want to sustain their current top-5 ranking. One of the keys to the Spartans could be the on-going health of sophomore point guard Lourawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn, who is battling a foot injury.

According to a report from Kyle Austin of, Nairn has been putting on a protective boot the last few months to help battle plantar fasciitis as the guard has been playing in practices and hasn’t had his minutes reduced in games.

The injury looked like it was hurting Nairn’s early-season play, but he’s been very good in two games at the Wooden Legacy in California this week, so it could be that he’s getting more used to playing through the pain of the injury.

If Nairn is healthy and capable of contributing, he’s a huge boost to Michigan State because he’s one of the fastest players in college basketball and an additional ball handler on the floor. Through six games so far this season, Nairn is averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 assists per game as he’s been one of the team’s best distributors.

Plantar fasciitis can be a tough injury to fight through, so we’ll have to see if this affects Nairn as the season goes along.