Creighton’s players were tiring as halftime approached Friday and they’d already built a comfortable lead while playing near-flawless basketball, so they were due to make a few mistakes.

But they didn’t necessarily need to endure a dropoff in communication as well.

The Jays watched as Cal Poly made its final seven shots of the first half, scoring 17 points over a seven-possession stretch before the break. Creighton ultimately did earn an 86-70 victory, but that three-minute sequence certainly remained on the CU players’ minds after the game.

Sophomore Christian Bishop thought their team-wide chatter decreased as the game unfolded, especially defensively.

“The main thing was communication,” Bishop said. “We lost that at the end of the first half. They came down and hit some big shots.”

There were other factors, certainly.

Perhaps first and foremost, it was Creighton’s heavy reliance on its starters, who’ve accounted for 64.6% of CU’s total minutes in four games. Coach Greg McDermott did work redshirt freshman Jett Canfield and freshman Jalen Windham into the lineup in the first half — and he indicated that those two may have to play more going forward.

“I have to find a way to get (the starters) off or we’re asking for trouble,” said McDermott, whose team plays four games in eight days.

But the Jays can be sharper, too.

They gave up driving lanes Friday. They were late in back-side rotation at times. When they did help, they often weren’t able to recover back to shooters quickly enough. They fouled too often early in the game, although McDermott was pleased that CU played with more discipline in the second half.

Still, after Creighton took a 43-21 lead at the 3:32 mark in the first half Friday, it was outscored by six points the rest of the way. That’s largely because Cal Poly made 20 of its final 32 shots (62.5%).

“The last part of the (first) half and some of the things we did the second half are not going to be good enough in the long run to win games,” McDermott said.

Through four contests, Creighton’s surrendered 0.99 points per possession (ranking 179th nationally) and allowed its opponents to convert 56.2% of their 2-point field goals (310th), according to Ken Pomeroy’s data.

Bishop said after Friday’s game that he and his teammates believe they can push themselves a little more defensively. Junior Damien Jefferson, seated right there at the postgame press conference table, was nodding his head as Bishop spoke.

The Jays opened the win Friday by seizing control with their hustle. They pushed tempo offensively. They seemed to be everywhere on the other end — whether it was Mitch Ballock diving to knock a potential offensive board out of a Mustang player’s hand or Jefferson flying in for rebounds or Bishop holding his ground at the rim to disrupt a layup try and force a shot clock violation.

But they couldn’t sustain it. That’ll be the goal Sunday when they play North Florida (4-2), which has a 10-man rotation that’s averaging nearly 80 points per game.

“Everybody on the team has to make the decision themselves if we want to step up to the challenge and be known as a defensive team,” Bishop said.

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