The challenge facing Creighton in its second game is far different than the one it faced in its opener.
Which is exactly what the No. 15 Bluejays need at this time of the season, Creighton guard Grant Gibbs said.
“UAB definitely has some guys that can shoot it,” Gibbs said. “They run a lot of stuff on offense, a lot of different sets. This is going to be a lot different than North Texas and we're going to have to be ready for that.
“That's a step you have to take as a team as the season goes along. We're going to face a lot of different styles, and we need to be dialed in every night.”
The Bluejays knew heading into last week's opener that the Mean Green weren't likely to inflict serious damage from the outside. That won't be the case Wednesday when Alabama-Birmingham visits CenturyLink Center for a 7:05 p.m. game.
New Blazers coach Jerod Haase has only two players on his 12-man roster who are taller than 6-foot-6. UAB is loaded with guards. Guards who can shoot the ball on offense and create perimeter havoc on defense.
“They're very deep in the guard court, and Jerod has them playing very hard and very fast,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “They're capable of forcing a lot of turnovers on the defensive end.
“He has them playing a whole different style, a North Carolina style. They're very explosive in transition, and they keep running guards in and out at you. I really believe this will be a good test for us.”
Haase played for Roy Williams at Kansas, then spent the previous 13 seasons on Williams' staffs at KU and North Carolina. Haase took over at UAB last March, replacing Mike Davis.
Under Davis, the Blazers played a more deliberate offensive style. They've picked up the pace under Haase, scoring 105 points against Young Harris in last week's season opener.
UAB buried 11 3-pointers in the 105-59 win and shot 52.4 percent from beyond the arc.
“They have some wings that can really shoot it,” Bluejay forward Doug McDermott said. “A huge key to the game could be if we can keep them off the 3-point line and make them penetrate.”
That's exactly opposite of what Creighton tried to do against North Texas. The Bluejays wanted to bottle up an inside attack that featured Tony Mitchell and make the Mean Green try to beat them from the outside.
North Texas made 2 of 16 shots from beyond the arc and shot 31.9 percent overall.
“This will be a much better shooting team than the one we played on Friday,” Greg McDermott said. “They have at least five guys that are very capable 3-point shooters.
“It's good for us to have to prepare for different teams.”
Wednesday's game is the second between the teams, but the first was pivotal in Creighton's success last season. Playing for the first time on the road, the Bluejays overcame a second-half deficit in posting a 70-60 win that snapped UAB's 38-game nonconference regular-season winning streak.
It was the kind of game that the Bluejays might have lost in 2010-11, when they went 3-9 in games decided by five points or fewer.
“That game set a tone for us in getting road wins and getting some confidence early,” Gibbs said. “We really didn't know who we were yet at that point in the season. We went down there in a tough environment and found a way to win.
“Looking back, that was an important win, and we were able to build off of it.”
NOTES: Doug McDermott was one of 50 players named to the Naismith player of the year watch list. Kentucky's Anthony Davis won the award last season. ... Wednesday's game will be broadcast by NET. The Bluejays are 17-0 in games on the network. ... UAB center Fahro Alihodzic had signed a letter of intent with Nebraska last fall but was released from it when the Huskers changed coaches. Alihodzic scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the Blazers' win against Young Harris.
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