Creighton-Michigan

Michigan made it difficult for Creighton to capitalize on offensive rebounds.

Before Tuesday, it had been four years since the Jays earned 18 second-chance opportunities in the same game. And yet they still suffered a 79-69 loss to Michigan.

How?

Simply put, the offensive rebounds often did not directly lead to easy buckets.

Perhaps that’s a reflection of hesitancy on Creighton’s part. Michigan blocked six shots and altered several more near the rim. The Wolverines, who were already attached to CU shooters along the perimeter, appeared to do a good job of matching back up when the possessions restarted. It could have also just been bad luck. Mitch Ballock and Ty-Shon Alexander both missed wide-open, step-in 3-pointers.

Bottom line, though: Instead of creating advantage situations, most of the time, the offensive boards just reset the possession.

The Jays went 6 of 16 from the floor and committed two turnovers directly following those 18 offensive rebounds. The result was 13 second-chance points.

“When we got offensive rebounds, we probably didn’t do a good enough job of capitalizing on those,” coach Greg McDermott said during his postgame radio interview on 1620 AM KOZN.

Shereef Mitchell guided in a putback off his own miss. Alexander did that once, too. Jones missed two point-blank putback tries. Christian Bishop skied over top for a putback dunk.

But aside from those plays, so many of Creighton’s second chances unfolded much like its unsuccessful first tries. The Jays struggled all night to create high-percentage looks out of their halfcourt offense. Their ability to hustle and fight their way to 18 offensive rebounds did not change that.

Other observations from Creighton’s loss to Michigan are below:

» McDermott did commend the Jays for their box-out technique and effort on the glass. He indicated it wasn’t a fluke they out-rebounded the taller Wolverines 38-27. It’s a blueprint CU will need going forward.

» Creighton made five shots in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock during the first half, resulting in 12 points. Those quick-score opportunities were nonexistent after halftime.

» Michigan’s tactics against the Jays’ ball-screen offense: the center defending the screen sagged into the lane to protect the rim, taking away the lob pass to CU’s rolling big man, and the help defenders stayed home on Creighton’s shooters. As a result, the ball handlers had lots of room to operate. They often settled for jump shots, which did not work.

In ball-screen situations, the Jays were 3 of 10 on mid-range jumpers and 0 for 3 on 3-pointers. Said Alexander: “Coach really relied on us to hit that mid-range shot. He knows that we can hit those mid-range shots. But we didn’t.”

» Creighton had issues preventing Michigan point guard Zavier Simpson from dribbling into the middle of the floor. McDermott said the CU big men probably could have been better at providing more aggressive help when the Wolverines set ball screens for Simpson. But mostly, the Jays didn’t have an answer. Simpson finished with 17 points and nine assists, which led directly to 22 more points.

» CU sports information director Rob Anderson tweeted that the Jays’ two total free-throw attempts Tuesday marked the first time in 11 years they’d shot two or fewer in a game. They missed them both. The last time Creighton failed to hit a free throw in a game? Unclear. It was before the 1985-86 season, according to Anderson's research.

This is worrisome. For as much as CU’s guards handle it, they have earned just three free-throw attempts in two games (the bigs have gone to the line seven times). Adding Davion Mintz (out with an ankle injury) and transfer Denzel Mahoney (eligible in December) back into the lineup should help, but Creighton could still stand to attack a little more.

» Including games from this year and last season, the Jays are 18-6 (.750) when leading at halftime. They were up by three points at the break at Michigan. In the three years prior (2015-18), CU had a 56-13 record (.812) with a halftime lead.

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