Austin Chatman was juiced.
Friday's game against North Texas was his first start as Creighton's point guard. He knew many of the players on the Mean Green team. He was ready to play. Maybe a little too ready.
“I had a lot of energy and enthusiasm,” Chatman said. “I was a little nervous.”
Chatman got off to a shaky start, committing a turnover on Creighton's first possession. He had a second, then a third, before six minutes had ticked off the clock in the first half.
“It was a bad start but then I settled down,” Chatman said. “I think I played pretty well for the most part.”
Chatman had just one turnover the rest of the game. He finished the 71-51 victory with 11 points and two assists. It made for a more-than-adequate debut, Creighton coach Greg McDermott said.
“We're playing a couple of point guards that haven't played this big of a role before,” McDermott said. “They had some turnovers when they tried to do the right thing when the right thing isn't necessarily there.
“There is a lot of learning that is going to take place with those two.”
Chatman's backup, Andre Yates, was playing in his first collegiate game Friday. He scored three points and had an assist but also had four turnovers.
Creighton finished with 13 turnovers — 10 of which came in the first 20 minutes. The Bluejays ability to control the rebounding in the first half — they had a 23-14 advantage at the break — helped neutralize the negative impact of the turnovers.
“First half, we turned it over too much but we rebounded really well,” McDermott said. “Second half, we didn't rebound as well but we went from 10 turnovers to three turnovers. I thought not turning it over was really key in the second half.”
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Overall, McDermott was pleased to come away with a 20-point win over a team that, a few days before, he said he would gladly take a one-point victory. North Texas is picked to win the Sun Belt, and the Mean Green boasted a tremendous weapon in 6-foot-8 Tony Mitchell.
Creighton got its season off to a positive start because the Bluejays were able to hold Mitchell in relative check and shut down his supporting cast. Mitchell got off for nine straight points early in the game, but scored just nine more in the final 30 minutes.
Mitchell's teammates shot 26 percent against the Bluejays and none scored more than nine points.
“When you play a team as good as Creighton, some of your weaknesses are going to be exposed,” North Texas coach Tony Benford said. “They are a quality team.”
McDermott was pleased the win came on a night when Creighton struggled to make shots from beyond the arc. The Bluejays, who shot 42.4 percent from 3-point range last season to finish third nationally, made 5 of 18 shots (27.8 percent) from beyond the arc Friday.
“We were very unlike Creighton in our 3-point percentage,” McDermott said. “I thought we had good looks at the basket but there was probably some first-game jitters and nervousness.”
Avery Dingman made 2 of his 3 3-point attempts. Doug McDermott, Ethan Wragge and Chatman each converted 1 of 3 shots from beyond the arc.
Chatman finished 4 of 7 overall from the field and came within a point of matching his career high. Greg McDermott has repeatedly said in the preseason that his expectations for Chatman are to run the offense, avoid turnovers and make shots when he has them.
Chatman expects the same.
“I've been in the gym a lot working on my jumper,” Chatman said. “I feel pretty confident with my shot.”
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