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No. 8 Creighton aims to rebound against Alabama

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No. 8 Creighton looks to bounce back from its second loss of the season when it faces Alabama on Saturday at Omaha, Neb.

Though the Crimson Tide are a tough opponent, the Bluejays (8-2) may be happy Alabama isn’t part of the Mountain West.

Creighton was outclassed 79-64 by UNLV on Wednesday night for its second double-digit loss to a Mountain West foe this season. Earlier, the Bluejays were walloped by then-unranked Colorado State 69-48 on Nov. 23.

Creighton also lost to a Mountain West team in the Elite Eight of last season’s NCAA Tournament when it fell 57-56 to eventual runner-up San Diego State.

When playing other conferences this season, the Bluejays are 8-0 with six victories by more than 20 points.

Against UNLV, Creighton shot just 40 percent from the field, including 8 of 29 from 3-point range.

“UNLV played great,” Bluejays coach Greg McDermott said. “They controlled tempo probably as good as anybody we’ve played this year.”

Creighton big man Ryan Kalkbrenner scored 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting to move into 18th place in school history with 1,325 career points. Kalkbrenner also had eight rebounds and a season-high five blocked shots. It is the ninth time he has blocked five or more shots in his career.

Baylor Scheierman, who averages a team-best 18.3 points per game, contributed 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. But Trey Alexander had just seven points on 2-of-13 shooting.

It represents Alexander’s second-worst shooting game of the season. He was just 1 of 16 for 3 points in the loss to Colorado State.

With no more Mountain West teams on the schedule, McDermott is happy to move on to Alabama.

“You gotta flush it, because we don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves,” McDermott said. “We’ve got an important game on Saturday.”

The Crimson Tide (6-3) haven’t played since giving then-No. 4 Purdue a tough fight last Saturday before succumbing 92-86 in Toronto.

Mark Sears made a career-best eight 3-pointers and scored 35 points against the Boilermakers. The scoring output was just two off the career-high 37 he had for Ohio against Abilene Christian in the second round of the CBI on March 21, 2022.

“Sears has played in these big games,” Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats said of a player who was part of last season’s Sweet 16 team. “He has got the advantage a little bit. We played in a lot of big games last year.”

Sears has topped 20 points five times this season while averaging 21.4 per contest. He connected on 13 of 25 shots against Purdue and made half of his 3-point attempts.

Against the Boilermakers, Alabama had a 19-8 advantage in made 3-pointers but were outscored 24-9 at the free-throw line. Purdue star Zach Edey was 11 of 11 from the line while scoring 35 points.

“He is a tough cover,” Oats said of Edey. “We didn’t do a terrible job on him but he still had 35 points, so he makes things difficult.”

The Crimson Tide won their first four games of the season but haven’t won or lost consecutive games since then.

Alabama’s other setbacks are against Ohio State (92-81) and Clemson (85-77).

Creighton won both previous meetings. The Bluejays edged Alabama 58-57 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in March 2012, and also notched a 72-54 home win in the first round of the 2016 NIT.

–Field Level Media

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