OMAHA, Neb. — — Creighton is getting serious now.
The 10th-ranked Bluejays beat UC Riverside 80-51 Thursday night in their final vote before the Maui Invitational, where they could face up to three AP Top 25 teams next week after beating four low-major opponents averaging 26 .5 points had defeated.
“Moving to Creighton was a big reason for playing against high-quality teams,” said Baylor Scheierman. “It’s going to be on a national stage and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Scheierman scored 17 points in his best offensive game since moving from South Dakota State. Ryan Kalkbrenner, Arthur Kaluma and Trey Alexander each had 12 points for the Bluejays (4-0).
Wil Tattersall had 11 points to lead the Highlanders (1-2), who were 3 of 19 with 3 points and shooting 35.5% overall.
“Tonight was our best game,” said Creighton coach Greg McDermott. “It was the best team we’ve ever played against. We don’t have any of those games for the rest of the year. It’s basically a Power Five competition from now on, so hopefully that’s prepared us for that.”
Scheierman, who was 2 of 8 out of the field against Holy Cross on Monday, made back-to-back 3s early in the game. Creighton fell into a break and that allowed the Highlanders to take two leads totaling a minute. Zyon Pullin’s knight took them to 26-25 before missing 10 of their next 11 shots.
That’s when Creighton burst into tears. Kaluma’s 3 started a 16-2 run to close out the half and send the Bluejays into the locker room at 41-28. They never led by less than 12 points in the second half.
Next up for Creighton on Monday is his opener on Maui against No. 23 Texas Tech. The Bluejays play either No. 9 Arkansas or Louisville. Their Wednesday game has to be determined, with No. 14 Arizona or No. 17 San Diego State among possible opponents.
“I can’t wait to play against some top-flight teams that should be in the top 25,” said Alexander. “I think we will be able to show our skills. We definitely can’t wait to get out there and play some of the best players in the nation just to see how we fit together.”
UC Riverside: The Highlanders won 18 points behind in Loyola Marymount last week, but they didn’t have the firepower to keep up when the Bluejays got going.
Creighton: The game showed how many offensive options the Bluejays have. Scheierman disappeared in Monday’s game and led the team as the top scorer on Thursday. Kalkbrenner dominates around the basket and has developed an outside shot. Kaluma is good for double digits every night. Alexander is a slasher. The bank is deep.
LIME BURNER STREAK
Kalkbrenner hit his first three shots to extend his consecutive field goal streak to 22. He had made his last nine against North Dakota and went 10 for 10 against Holy Cross before hitting a couple of short shots and a 3-pointer against the Highlanders. His streak ended when a 3 from the wing bounced off the rim.
UC Riverside hosts Division III Occidental College on Saturday.
Creighton meets No. 23 Texas Tech in Hawaii on Monday.
AP College Basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP – -Top25