Omaha, Neb. — Powered by a 52-point second half, Creighton opened the 2021-22 season with a 90-77 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Tuesday.
The victory lifted the Bluejays to 1-0 on the season, giving head coach Greg McDermott his 20th win in a season-opening game.
Trailing 47-38 as the second half began, Creighton came out incensed. The Bluejays hit their first 10 shots from the field in the second half, going on to knock down 14 of their first 16 to storm out to a 69-60 lead with 10:47 remaining.
The key to Creighton’s turnaround was a defensive shift by head coach Greg McDermott, moving senior Alex O’Connell to defend Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s Trey Sampson. The Lions’ forward had 20 points in the first half, while O’Connell had three points in the opening 20 minutes.
The shift slowed down Sampson, limiting him to nine points in the second half. More importantly, the success on the defensive end energized the Blue jay senior. O’Connell delivered his first three dunks as a Blue jay during the second-half surge, also knocking down three of four from long range in the latter 20 minutes.
Creighton went on to push its lead to as much as 17 (89-72) late in the game, but the turning point was Creighton’s 33-13 run from the final possession of the first half to the 10:47 mark of the second frame.
Courtesy: Creighton Athletics