Creighton's Damien Jefferson (23) looks to pass while being guarded by Green Bay's ShanQuan Hemphill (10) during the first half of a college basketball game at CHI Health Center Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska, on Friday, December 14, 2018. BRENDAN SULLIVAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

The ball crossed halfcourt seven times in the first 100 seconds of the second half Friday night. The two ambitious teams missed all six of their shots and combined for two turnovers.

But neither was deterred one bit.

And that’s exactly what the Jays expected. It’s also why they so relentlessly encouraged one another not to let up.

The up-tempo, end-to-end barnburner didn’t always produce the most artful sequences of offense Friday. But Creighton (7-3) was convinced that its depth and its tenacity would eventually wear Wisconsin-Green Bay down.

CU did indeed pull away, using surges at the end of each half to earn an 86-65 victory at the CHI Health Center.

“We just told our guys, they haven’t played a team that runs like we run,” coach Greg McDermott said. “Most teams that play against them are scared to play that way because they’re so quick with their tempo. We decided to push it and run it right at them.”

The Jays eventually gained some separation.

There was a 13-4 run near the end of the half that turned a one-point CU lead into a 37-27 advantage. Sophomore Mitch Ballock, who finished with a team-high 19 points, and freshman Marcus Zegarowski capped that stretch with 3-pointers.

In fact, the Jays held Green Bay to 12 points on its final 21 possessions of the first half. The Phoenix (6-5) shot 4 of 13 from the floor and committed six turnovers during that span.

A similar stretch of play toward the latter stages of the second half put the game away for CU.

After Green Bay pulled within 58-54 with 12 minutes left, the Jays went on a 14-2 run. Sophomore Ty-Shon Alexander’s layup put Creighton in front 72-56, and CU cruised from there.

“We were pushing ourselves to want more,” Alexander said. “In practice we go over our defensive stuff a lot — diving on the ball, taking charges, doing all the dirty things to put us in a (good) situation. We’re just going to have to keep working and getting better at it.”

The mentality the Jays played with Friday seemed like a positive first step. Their defense seemed to set the tone, particularly during those two decisive surges.

It was the result Creighton had sought after spending the past few days focused on the fundamentals within its man-to-man scheme. The players talked all week about wanting to take more pride in the little things and playing with more effort — elements that were lacking in their 94-75 defeat at Nebraska on Saturday.

“They watched the film of the Nebraska game, and they didn’t like what they saw,” McDermott said. “They’re competitors.”

They bought in Friday.

The Jays’ first eight points were a result of hustle in transition. They were shooting before Green Bay’s defense could set up. They outscored the Phoenix 24-9 in fast-break points.

Midway through the first half, Ballock missed a layup but dove after the loose ball, tapping it out to Alexander for an offensive rebound. Within seconds, Ballock had picked himself off the court. He immediately spotted up in the corner and drilled a 3-pointer.

Sophomore Damien Jefferson slammed into the Phoenix bench while saving a ball in the second half. Freshman Samson Froling worked for two offensive boards on one possession. There were more moments like those, too.

“It wasn’t perfect,” McDermott said, “but there was certainly a lot more grit.”

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