MZ drive

Sophomore point guard Marcus Zegarowski drives by a defender during Creighton's 95-63 exhibition win over Division II McKendree on Friday. The Jays will open the 2019-20 regular season against Kennesaw State on Tuesday.

The Jays will open their 2019-20 season with a home game against Kennesaw State. And we’ve got a full breakdown of the matchup:

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday

Where: CHI Health Center

TV: Fox Sports Network (view the complete listings here)

Radio: 1620 AM KOZN, 101.9 FM KOOO

Opponent info

2018-19 Record: 6-26, 3-13 Atlantic Sun

2018-19 postseason: None

KenPom offensive efficiency: 338th last year (CU: 47th)

KenPom defensive efficiency: 299th last year (CU: 83rd)

Trending: It’s the first year for new coach Amir Abdur-Rahim, a fast-rising 38-year-old who got the Kennesaw State job after stints as an assistant at Georgia, Texas A&M, College of Charleston and Murray State. We’ll see how quickly he can make an impact. The Owls haven’t had a winning season in 14 years.

Series history: CU won the only other meeting 75-57 on Nov. 26, 2010 in Omaha.

Three players to watch

Senior guard Tyler Hooker: The 5-foot-10 playmaker has a quick dribble and can be a problem when he’s going downhill on a right-hand drive. He wasn’t overly efficient last year, but he still ranked second in the A-Sun at 19.0 points per game.

Sophomore guard Danny Lewis: The only other Owl who averaged double figures last year. He’s got a slender 6-foot-4 frame but he shot 35.4% from 3-point range.

Freshman guard Terrell Burden: He’s a shifty 5-foot-10 point guard who prefers to work his way into the lane and creatively finish among the trees. He averaged 10.5 points per game on the Nike EYBL circuit last year (just 3 of 22 from 3-point range, though).

Three keys for Creighton

1. Stop the dribble: Kennesaw State got 59% of its points inside the arc last year, the highest rate in the country, according to Ken Pomeroy’s data. The Owls do have some new pieces after a coaching change — but a sudden infusion of shooting talent seems unlikely (in fact, their best shooter last year, Bobby Parker, decided to transfer). So one would assume their plan Tuesday will be to drive the ball right at CU’s defense. The Jays have to be solid on the ball.

2. Clean up on the glass: Kennesaw State doesn’t have a ton of size, but the activity and athleticism of 6-foot-6 Ugo Obineke and 6-foot-8 Bryson Lockley helped the Owls lead the Atlantic Sun in offensive rebounding percentage during league play last season. A commitment to finishing defensive possessions with a board will be a key all year for an undersized Creighton squad. Tuesday’s game will be its first test.

3. Don’t settle on offense: Of the Jays’ 43 halftime points in an exhibition win over McKendree on Friday, just six of them came from behind the 3-point line. They weren’t shooting well early, sure. But they also didn’t rely solely on the jump shot. They had 13 buckets in the paint and eight made free throws. They attacked. That aggressiveness has to be part of the recipe Tuesday, whether the 3s are going in or not.

Predictions

ESPN’s BPI: Creighton’s win probability is 96.5%

KenPom: Creighton wins 89-63

Jon Nyatawa’s take: Kennesaw State’s backcourt doesn’t appear to have a great deal of length and size, so Creighton’s guards should feel comfortable to operate their fast-paced offense. The Jays newcomers are still learning — there will be plenty of mistakes. But CU is the better team. 87-66.

Get the headlines from Creighton, Nebraska, UNO, high schools and other area teams.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Recommended for you

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.