Creighton basketball takes on Kansas in top-10 duel

No. 8 Creighton basketball will travel to Lawrence and face off against the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks on Tuesday, Dec. 8. It’s a face-off of two top-10 teams. The game is part of the annual Big East-Big 12 Battle. They have not met since 1974.

Creighton (3-0)

The Jays come in unbeaten so far but have faced relatively inferior competition in the first three games. Now comes the big non-conference test.

Creighton has shared the ball well this season, with assists on 64% of its made shots this season. It has six players averaging 10+ points per game. The Jays have yet to get going from the three-point line so far, only shooting 34%. They have stepped up and have dominated the inside, though. They are averaging 40 points per game in the paint.

This team is better where other Creighton basketball teams have not: in the paint and around the rim. This is due to the emergence of freshman Ryan Kalkbrenner and the development of Christian Bishop.

Kansas (4-1)

Kansas has faced off against two top-25 teams, defeating No. 20 Kentucky and losing to No. 1 Gonzaga. It had to come back late in the second half this past weekend to defeat North Dakota State.

The Jayhawks have shown they are vulnerable this season after the losses of Devon Dotson and Udoka Azimbuke. Jalen Wilson has stepped up for them this season as the freshman is putting up double-doubles in each of the last two games.

Kansas has been an inconsistent three-point shooting team so far. It shot over 40% in its first two games before struggling against Kentucky and North Dakota State. It has also been poor attacking the rim.

Here are a few keys to the game.

Marcus vs Marcus

Marcus Zegarowski, meet Marcus Garrett. Zegarowski is the more dominant scorer and playmaker, and Garrett the best perimeter defender in the country.

Zegarowski is the biggest offensive threat for Creighton, especially what he can do in transition and in the pick-and-roll. Garrett will be keyed in on him the entire game, so how does Zegarowski find himself opportunities?

Garrett is also a very capable scorer but can he conserve enough energy to help the Jayhawks on offense? Can he prove to make the best decisions with the ball in his hands down the stretch, an issue he has had?

How does Creighton match up with Jalen Wilson?

Wilson caused major matchup issues against Kentucky and NDSU when Bill Self moved him to the center position. He scored 21 points in the second half against the Wildcats. He’s very good at attacking the rim and a respectable shooter.

Creighton will switch up who guards him most of the game between Denzel Mahoney and Damien Jefferson. The two are both a little shorter than Wilson but have the physicality to battle with him. Christian Bishop may spend time on him, especially when Wilson is at center.

It’s hard for Creighton to put in Kalkbrenner or Jacob Epperson against Wilson because they can’t guard him on the perimeter.

Greg McDermott vs Bill Self: Old Foes

These two know each other well from McDermott’s days at Iowa State. They know each other’s styles.

The two teams have flipped styles this season though. Creighton has a great center rotation and is solid defensively. Kansas likes to push the pace.

You will see these coaches in a hard locked chess match on Tuesday afternoon. Self will take David McCormack out of the game and play small, but McDermott will try to go big.

I think McDermott will try to match up and go small with Self, but he needs to know when it is time to go big.


I think Creighton basketball comes out firing and takes a double-digit first half lead, but Kansas will battle back and make it interesting. The Jays will find just enough shooting and come up with a couple of big stops in the second half to close the game out. Creighton wins 71-65.

Game info

When: Dec. 8, 5 p.m. ET
Where: Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kansas
Betting: Kansas -4.5, O/U 112

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