Tuesday’s game against Creighton was business as usual for the Longwood Lancers.
They came, they saw, they got conquered.
The No. 14 Bluejays posted a season-high scoring total in rolling to a 105-57 win at CenturyLink Center to improve to 4-0 in front of a paid attendance of 15,826. Longwood dropped to 0-4, with three of the losses coming on the road by an average margin of 47 points.
“We’ve been doing this for a while now and there are some realities in what we have to face,” Longwood coach Mike Gillian said. “The last seven or eight years, we’ve played as an independent. We’ve played all over the country against all the best teams.”
The Lancers have rarely won since jumping to Division I in 2004. Since then, they are 13-116 in true road games and 19-130 in all games away from home. Last season, Longwood traveled more than 19,000 miles in playing 19 times away from home.
In its first two games of the Las Vegas Invitational, Longwood has surrendered 217 points in 80 minutes to Arkansas and Creighton. The Bluejays scored 80 points in the final 31 1⁄2 minutes.
“We’ve played some pretty good teams early on,” Gillian said. “These guys here are deserved of their ranking. They’re efficient, effective, play well together. They play very hard and they’re in for a great season.”
A season that takes a step up in difficulty the next two games. Creighton begins preparing Wednesday for Friday’s game against Wisconsin at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The Bluejays will face either Arkansas or Arizona State on Saturday.
“This is a huge challenge,” Creighton forward Doug McDermott said. “This is what we’ve been looking forward to. The Wisconsin game is one we circled on our calendars, and I’m sure every Creighton fan did the same thing.
“It’s going to be a tough matchup, but our goal is to win this tournament and we’re 2-0 right now. Now we take on the third.”
McDermott and Gregory Echenique each scored 17 points against Longwood, which was the first team this season that didn’t try to double-team the Bluejays’ primary inside players when they got the ball.
That didn’t quite work out for the Lancers. Longwood had its two tallest players — 6-foot-9 Michael Kessens and 6-8 Jeff Havenstein — foul out, and three others finished with four fouls.
“I was kind of surprised they didn’t,” said Echenique when asked about Lancers’ defensive strategy. “That’s good. In a perfect world, that’s what I want.”
Creighton also got 13 points from 6-11 Will Artino as it finished with a 54-28 edge in points in the paint. It also held advantages of 30-11 in points off turnovers, 15-12 on second-chance points and 56-13 in bench scoring.
As he did in Sunday’s game against Presbyterian, Bluejay coach Greg McDermott substituted freely. No Creighton starter played more than the 23 minutes that sophomore point guard Austin Chatman logged. All 16 Bluejays played and 13 scored.
“I think every team we could possibly play there (Las Vegas) is in the same boat,” Greg McDermott said. “I don’t think anyone has stretched their starters or their key reserves. Most of the games have been pretty lopsided, and I’m not sure we have any advantage over anybody else.”
Creighton encored the accurate shooting it showed in last Sunday’s 87-58 win against Presbyterian with another on-target effort. The Bluejays shot 64.8 percent from the field after making 61.5 percent Sunday. Creighton’s reserves shot 74 percent from the field, with Ethan Wragge making all three of his 3-pointers in a 13-point night.
Asked what he likes about his team after four games, McDermott ticked off a list of things.
“After not shooting it as well as we’re capable of in our first couple games, I think we’ve settled in there,” the coach said. “Our assists to turnovers have been relatively good, and we’ve made strides defensively.
“We’re never going to be a perfect defensive team but we’ve made some improvements, and those improvements could really be tested this weekend because we could see some varying styles of basketball.”
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Video: See the postgame press conference: