If starting the season in the top-25 wasn’t enough, Creighton announced its national relevance with a huge win Tuesday.
The 23rd-ranked Bluejays defeated No. 9 Wisconsin, 79-67, in impressive fashion at CenturyLink Center as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games.
Creighton (2-0) forced 16 turnovers from the Badgers (101), who made just 11 of 39 3-point shot attempts on the night.
Wisconsin’s potential flaws were on display in Omaha as both Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig were at times inefficient scorers while Ethan Happ was marginalized offensively. Hayes was 6 of 13 from the floor, with all but four of his shots coming from 3-point range while Koenig was 8 of 19 from the floor and 3 of 13 from 3-point range. Happ, who even with the plaudits Hayes and Koenig have earned may be the team’s best player, only attempted five shots, making three, and grabbing 10 rebounds. He was part of Wisconsin’s turnover troubles, committing four on the night.
The Badgers’ jumpshooting will probably fade in and out at times, but committing 16 turnovers given their pace is almost always going to be a killer, especially when Hayes and Koenig aren’t at their best.
Still, time will likely bear out that losing to Creighton in their gym is no great sin.
This looked like a Bluejays team primed to jockey with Villanova and Xavier atop the Big East and make their return to the NCAA tournament after a two-year absence.
Creighton got the job done against the Badgers with balance with four players finishing in double figures. The backcourt tandem of Maurice Watson, Jr. and Marcus Foster lived up to their billing as one of the country’s best. Watson had 17 points, 10 assists, four steals and three rebounds while Foster had 15 points. Khyri Thomas came through with 18 points on 6 of 8 shooting. Five-star freshman Justin Patton made 5 of 6 shots for 10 points and had six rebounds.
It’s the type of win that asserts the Bluejays as a team to be noticed in a post-Doug McDermott era. The backcourt will get the headlines, but if the supporting cast like Thomas, Patton, Isaiah Zierden and Zach Hanson can provide the help they did against the Badgers, Creighton is going to be a problem for the rest of the Big East, especially at home in front of 17,000.