In November 2012, the Jays played four times in one week. Twice at home and twice in Las Vegas. Then CU returned to Omaha for a game against Boise State.
And Creighton, still weary from a jam-packed holiday hoops schedule, got smacked. The Broncos led for almost the entire game in an 83-70 victory. They shot 60.4% from the floor and out-rebounded the Jays by 13.
That’s what coach Greg McDermott was thinking about as this year’s squad prepared for Oral Roberts on Tuesday.
Creighton, which essentially operates with a seven-man rotation, played four times over an eight-day stretch. It traveled back home from Las Vegas on Saturday following two demanding games, then had to summon the energy to engage in a 40-minute battle against a hard-working opponent that hadn’t played in eight days.
CU did survive with a 72-60 win over Oral Roberts. But it wasn’t pretty, especially after halftime. The Jays got outscored 29-26 in the second half.
“Anybody who watched the game (can see) we’re dead tired,” McDermott said.
The Jays’ second-half dropoff wasn’t just a Tuesday thing, though.
They’ve lost steam toward the end of seemingly every game — and the impact of fatigue has been most evident in their long-range shooting numbers. CU has made 45.3% of its 3-pointers in the first half and just 28.4% in the second.
McDermott said he’s shortened practices significantly. He’s worked in more off days. He doesn’t want to deviate from Creighton’s up-tempo style, so he's theorized that a lighter workload between game days can keep his players fresh when they take the floor.
“Hopefully we’ve got enough gas in the tank for Saturday (against Nebraska),” McDermott said. “I think the emotion of that game will help with that. And then we have a week until we play again. That’ll give us some time to really get our legs back under us.”
The problem may fix itself by the end of the month. Transfer Denzel Mahoney will be eligible in two weeks. Senior guard Davion Mintz, who has yet to play this year, could return to practice on a limited basis this week.
Other observations from Tuesday’s game are below.
» Junior Ty-Shon Alexander made back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the first half to help the Jays build a double-digit lead. The first two makes came on the break. On the year, when he fires up a 3-pointer within the first five seconds of the shot clock, he’s shooting 56.3% (9 of 16). "The more we run, the easier that shot’s going to be,” Alexander said.
» No surprise here: The top three minutes-per-game leaders in the Big East all play for Creighton. Junior Mitch Ballock ranks first at 35.5 minutes per game, followed by sophomore Marcus Zegarowski (35.3) and Alexander (34.3).
» The Jays did go 10 of 13 from the free-throw line Tuesday. But they’re still shooting just 65.5% from the stripe this season (287th nationally).
» After surrendering 14 offensive boards Tuesday, CU’s defensive rebounding percentage has dipped (now at 71.7%). That’s seventh among Big East teams. The Jays were second in the league in that category the last two seasons (74.0% in 2018-19 and 75.7% in 2017-18).