Chalk it up as a necessary evil.
In order to get a couple of games against high-profile opponents in the Las Vegas Invitational, Creighton had to accept two home games against teams that hardly move the needle.
The first came Sunday against Presbyterian, and the Bluejays rolled to an easy 87-58 victory. The second comes Tuesday when Creighton faces the Longwood Lancers at 7:05 p.m. at CenturyLink Center.
With a Friday game against Wisconsin and a Saturday meeting with either Arkansas or Arizona State, Creighton's players might be excused for letting their attention stray just a bit. Bluejay forward Doug McDermott said it's important they don't.
“You can't give into that,” McDermott said. “We opened with two tough games right off the bat, and that's something that is going to be good for us. We were challenged right away.
“You have to readjust with two games like these, but we have to keep the mindset that these teams can come in here and beat us.”
Creighton opened with victories over Sun Belt preseason favorite North Texas and Alabama-Birmingham. The win over Presbyterian left Creighton 3-0 and helped elevate the Bluejays one spot in the national rankings.
Creighton moved up Monday to 12th in the USA Today coaches' poll and to 14th in the Associated Press rankings.
Creighton coach Greg McDermott said a couple of factors could help keep his team focused on the task at hand rather than peeking ahead to Wisconsin.
“We've talked about this being a four-game tournament, and our goal is to go 4-0,” he said. “And I think our guys are smart enough and mature enough to understand that each game counts one in the win column or the loss column.
“None of them have more value, so you really can't let one of them get away. We'll prepare for Longwood and once tomorrow night is over, we'll turn our attention to Wisconsin.”
Longwood is 0-3, having lost 112-63 to Arkansas on Sunday. The school, located in Farmville, Va., has been playing in Division I since the 2004-05 season. Most of its games have come on the road as Longwood has averaged more than 18 non-home games over the past eight seasons.
The Lancers are 13-115 in true road games in that span and 6-15 in neutral site games.
This season's team has been outscored by an average of 90.3-58.7 points per game and is shooting just 36.9 percent from the field and 18.9 percent from 3-point range. In addition to being outrebounded by an average of 13 per game, the Lancers have a minus-2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio (31 assists, 61 turnovers).
A positive in playing the two warm-up games before hitting Vegas is that everyone gets to play. Against Presbyterian, none of Creighton's starters played more than 24 minutes and the Bluejays used reserves for most of the last 13 minutes of the game.
“I don't think we taxed any of our starters or our top 10 too much,” Greg McDermott said. “And we got some guys on the floor that needed to get on the floor. That's good for their development as well.”
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