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Just Saying: Bluejay away

Buffalo v Creighton Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images

Thank goodness MAC teams don’t have to see anymore of Marcus Foster and his monstrous dunks.

Akron and Buffalo both had the pleasure of heading to the CenturyLink Center in Omaha to square off with one of the nation’s top squads in the Creighton Bluejays over the last week.

The Bulls

Buffalo did not have a fun time trying to stop the vaunted Creighton offense last Tuesday.

While the Bulls did compete for a bit, the offense just couldn’t keep up. Trailing just two point heading into halftime, the Bulls surrendered 52 second-half points. A total of 23 of Creighton’s points came off of turnovers.

It wasn’t just Foster’s scoring via dunks (22 points) that paved the way. Impressive Creighton freshman Justin Patton joined in on the dunk parade as well and put up 21 points.

Willie Conner and Blake Hamilton both forced the issue enough to keep things close. Hamilton in particular has started to shape up after a relatively poor start and a horrendous 3-of-18 effort against Nevada. He is, however, being used a bit more than is ideal. He has now chucked up at least 18 shots in the team’s last five games after only scoring a total of 27 points through three games. That 8-of-23 performance against an athletic Creighton bunch is understandable, and his .374 shooting percentage will come up as the Bulls more healthily share the offensive workload in the coming weeks.

For that to happen though, the Bulls will need more from the likes of Nick Perkins and Ikena Smart, who were overmatched against the Bluejays and scored just four combined points between them in 35 minutes. Otherwise Raheem Johnson is going to start getting more of those minutes (and Perkins did in a strong performance against St. Bonaventure).

The Zips

Akron stayed competitive with the Bluejays at times, but fell behind by 19-0 when the Bluejays went on a 14-0 run in the second half. The Zips cut the score to 78-70 with under two minutes to go but obviously didn’t get the job done in a 82-70 loss.

Like Buffalo, turnovers proved to be a difference-maker for the Zips as Creighton turned 17 Akron turnovers into 20 points.

Back to Foster’s dunks in case you’re a masochist who likes to relive the pain of your team’s defeats.

Part of the Zips’ continued identity is no one man outshining the rest by much. Kwan Cheatham had his five 3-pointers and 17 points, but Isaiah Johnson and Antino Jackson got their 13 and respectively.

Akron was never going to stop Creighton enough to pull out a win though, as Creighton shot the ball 55.6 percent from the floor. It’s what the fighting Dougie McDermott’s do. Maurice Watson dishes out the candy. Khyri Thomas gets his. Cole Hoffman, Zach Hanson and the like add into the community fridge.

I mean look at this nonsense below. This is typical for them.

Both squads competed adequately against the Bluejays. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Creighton live in-person this year in Omaha when it played against Loyola. Creighton is fully capable of making nearly any defense in the country flustered when it gets going. They can flip a switch and bang, they’re off to the races.

My mind’s spinning about the type of matchups that I’d kill to see with the Bluejays, be it against a strong defensive opponent in Virginia, a fast-paced pressing team that would get Creighton out of rhythm but would also allow them to show off their offensive firepower in against the likes of West Virginia, or maybe even a faceoff with Baylor as two teams such as those try to prove their worth in the polls.

What I do know is, I don’t want to see Creighton playing a MAC team again. When this squad turns it on, they could beat any team in the MAC by 40, and that includes Akron, Ohio and the like. Maybe Marcus Keene and Marcus Foster would make a Central Michigan-Creighton game fun, but the athleticism of a Creighton group like this would be too much to slow down for long.

It was fun Creighton, but I’m here to shield my MAC children from your harmful beaks. Go beat up on the Big East. Keep doing you.