Groselle, Milliken lead Jays to landslide win on senior day

Creighton's James Milliken steers around St. John's Yankuba Sima on his way to the basket in the second half during Creighton's 100-59 win over St. John's on Sunday in Omaha.

Geoffrey Groselle didn’t need his Creighton degree in financial analysis to figure out what would make a perfect Senior Day script Sunday for him and James Milliken.

Only three players have scored 40 points or more in a game since the Bluejays moved to the CenturyLink Center in 2003. All three — Cavel Witter, Doug McDermott and Evansville’s Colt Ryan — did so on Senior Day.

“James and I talked, and we decided either one of us weren’t going to get 40 but we had to get 40 together,” Groselle said. “We went out and did it.”

Groselle contributed 22 points and Milliken chipped in 19 as the seniors led Creighton to a 100-59 mauling of St. John’s in front of 17,351. Groselle also grabbed 11 rebounds in registering his third double-double of the season.

“I really proud of these two guys,” coach Greg McDermott said. “You only get one Senior Day, and to play at a high level today like they did from the onset was really good to see.

“We needed a performance like this. It was a great way to finish off the home portion of our schedule, but now we have some work to do on the road.”

And the two teams — Providence and fifth-ranked Xavier — that Creighton plays on the road to fill out the Big East regular-season schedule will not resemble the club the Bluejays routed Sunday.

The Red Storm have won one game since mid-December and fell to 8-22 overall and 1-16 in the league. Coach Chris Mullin missed the final 13:42 after being ejected for picking up two second-half technical fouls.

At that point, the Bluejays led 67-36. Creighton blew out to a 29-point halftime lead by blitzing the Red Storm with an inside-outside attack that produced 53 points.

That’s eight fewer than the Bluejays scored in Wednesday’s 65-61 loss at home to Marquette. That defeat put a dent into Creighton’s long shot hopes of making the NCAA tournament.

“The loss to Marquette definitely stayed in our heads,” Groselle said. “We had good practices leading up to this game and it showed on the court.”

In their two practices leading up to Sunday’s game, Creighton focused on interjecting more movement into the offense. The Bluejays wanted their first looks to be inside to perhaps take some pressure off their slump-bound shooters.

Creighton scored 16 of its first 17 points in the paint and finished with a 52-22 advantage.

“We managed to score inside early, and then they started collapsing on Geoff,” Milliken said. “That’s when we started getting some good looks from outside.

“When we knock down shots, our game is flowing.”

Creighton missed 18 of its 21 shots from beyond the arc vs. Marquette. The Bluejays made 8 of their first 12 first-half 3-pointers against St. John’s, including five straight.

The outside barrage was part of the 31-6 run that turned a 22-18 Creighton lead with 10:47 left in the half into a 53-24 halftime edge. The Bluejays shot 66.7 percent both from the field and the 3-point line in the first 20 minutes.

Groselle and Cole Huff combined to take nine first-half shots and did not miss. Milliken was 4 of 6, but all four of his baskets came from outside the arc.

“The ball was moving better and Geoff was working hard at getting angles inside,” McDermott said. “Any time you can establish an inside presence like that early in the game, it makes everyone’s life a lot easier.

“I don’t know what we worked on in practice was re-inventing the wheel but we talked about some things that had been successful in the past and we emphasize those.”

Creighton didn’t make a 3-pointer after halftime but that hardly mattered. It made 17 second-half baskets in shooting 54.8 percent. All but one of the 17 came on layups or dunks, with the 17th coming on a 5-footer by Groselle.

Huff and Maurice Watson added support for the seniors, scoring 13 and 10 points, respectively. Watson also had seven assists and one turnover. Eleven of the 12 Bluejays who played scored, and Creighton got rebounds from 10 players in dominating the boards 47-21.

The Red Storm got 17 points from Christian Jones and 13 from Yankuba Sima. In addition to getting crushed on the boards, St. John’s shot 37.1 percent from the field and committed 11 turnovers that Creighton turned in 22 points.

The win improved Creighton to 18-11 and 9-7 in the league to keep the Bluejays alone in fourth place. Their next game comes Wednesday at Providence, which is tied for fifth at 8-8. Creighton will close the regular season with a Saturday game at Xavier, which saw its hope for a conference championship take a hit with Sunday’s loss to Seton Hall.

“This team isn’t intimidated by playing on the road,” McDermott said. “Xavier doesn’t play all week, so that place should be rocking on Saturday. Providence is playing for an NCAA seed while trying to get their mojo back.

“It’s going to be a challenge but we held Providence to 50.”

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Video: Creighton vs. St. John's highlights

Video: Creighton vs. St. John's postgame press conference

Video: Creighton celebrates seniors

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