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‘Didn’t quite have enough gas in the tank’: Despite halftime lead, Creighton men fall to Michigan – Omaha World-Herald

Nov 13th, 2019

ANN ARBOR, Mich. The game had the feel of a shootout, exactly the style of play that seemed to best suit the small-ball Jays on the road against a taller and longer Michigan squad.

But Creighton hit a slump at exactly the wrong time and the Wolverines never slowed down.

CU lost 79-69 Tuesday night at the Crisler Center, squandering a three-point halftime lead as it opened the second half just 6 of 20 from the field. By the time the Jays seemed to settle back in against a stretched-out Michigan defense, it was too late.

That start of the second half, I really felt that if we could put an 8-2 run on them or something like that take it to 10 points then we might get them to get the deer-in-the-headlights look a little, Creighton coach Greg McDermott said during his postgame radio interview. But they really pounced on us.

Michigan (2-0) definitely was the aggressor out of the break, repeatedly attacking the heart of CUs defense on dribble drives to flip the momentum of the game.

The Wolverines were so efficient during the first 11 minutes of the second half that they essentially eliminated Creightons transition game. The hosts turned the ball over just once. They missed seven shots during that span, but twice grabbed the offensive board.

The Jays (1-1) just werent able to keep up.

Guards Ty-Shon Alexander and Mitch Ballock, who combined for 25 first-half points, got smothered. Midrange jumpers didnt fall. Shots at the rim were altered by Michigans height. Alexander said he and his teammates rushed things a bit, particularly when they dribbled into the paint.

McDermott also theorized that Creightons guards wore down as the game unfolded the depleted Jays relied on a seven-man rotation Tuesday.

We had some decent looks at some midrange. We just didnt make them, McDermott said during his radio interview. But we also had some disjointed offensive possessions. Ill have to look at it I think some of its fatigue. But its the hand were dealt right now, so weve got to do the best we can.

Junior Damien Jefferson made his season debut and played 27 minutes, although hes still hobbled by the foot injury that forced him to miss CUs season opener last week.

Ballock didnt leave the floor in the first half. Sophomore guard Marcus Zegarowski didnt sub out after halftime until the final minute. Alexander got a 45-second break midway through the second half.

We just didnt quite have enough gas in the tank, McDermott said.

Michigan did. The Wolverines scored on four straight possessions at the start of the second half three were driving layups by point guard Zavier Simpson to retake the lead at 46-43 with 17:30 left.

Junior forward Isaiah Livers, whose 6-foot-7 frame allowed him to comfortably elevate over CUs guards, proved problematic for the Jays all night. He made a jump shot and a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions to stretch his teams advantage to 56-50 with 12 minutes remaining.

A couple of possessions later, Livers finished off an alley-oop in transition. He dived for a loose ball and secured an offensive board hustle that led to a Brandon Johns layup.

Simpsons layup the next time down put Michigan ahead 64-55 at the 9:14 mark. CU never got closer than five points after that.

Obviously our depth is not where we wanted to be, Alexander said. But this is our second game of the season. I told my guys, hold yalls heads up. Weve still got a long season ahead of us. Weve got to learn from this. Were gonna keep getting better so we can show people what were made of.

Ty-Shon Alexander

Height/weight:6-4, 195

Class:Junior

Position: Wing

Hometown:Charlotte, North Carolina

The preseason All-Big East honoree emerged last season as Creightons best one-on-one bucket-getter, and he hopes an added year of experience will improve his efficiency. Hell also be looking to make his mark defensively.

Mitch Ballock

Height/weight:6-5, 205

Class:Junior

Position:Wing

Hometown:Eudora, Kansas

He was one of six underclassmen in Division I basketball to make 90 or more 3-pointers and still shoot better than 40%. Ballock led CU in assists as well last year.

Christian Bishop

Height/weight:6-7, 205

Class:Sophomore

Position:Forward

Hometown:Lees Summit, Missouri

He earned a spot in the rotation midway through the season and started to settle in toward the end, averaging 8.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.0 blocks during three NIT games.

Jett Canfield

Height/weight:5-10, 155

Class:Redshirt freshman

Position:Point guard

Hometown:Topeka, Kansas

He understands the offense and knows how to make the right play. The walk-on whos improved considerably during the preseason will be a tone-setter in practice.

Jacob Epperson

Height/weight:6-11, 225

Class:Sophomore

Position: Center

Hometown:Melbourne, Australia

After rehabbing this offseason from season-ending surgery, Epperson suffered another setback in preseason camp. He broke a bone in his leg. Hell be out for a while.

Damien Jefferson

Height/weight:6-5, 200

Class:Junior

Position:Wing

Hometown:East Chicago, Indiana

Jefferson was the teams second-leading scorer (11.1) and top rebounder (5.8) during nonconference play last year. Then he got hurt. Hell look to return to form this season.

Antwann Jones

Height/weight:6-6, 205

Class:Sophomore

Position:Wing

Hometown:Orlando, Florida

The Memphis transfer is a former five-star prospect who was intrigued by Creightons track record of development, so he joined the CU program. He stuffed the stat sheet in Australia.

Kelvin Jones

Height/weight:6-11, 230

Class:Senior

Position:Center

Hometown:Chihuahua, Mexico

Jones, a graduate transfer with one season of eligibility, could be an X-factor on a team that lacks interior size. He has plenty to learn, but hes embracing the challenge.

Denzel Mahoney

Height/weight:6-5, 225

Class:Junior

Position:Wing

Hometown:Oviedo, Florida

Mahoney, who temporarily left the program last spring, wont be eligible until December. Hes strong, long and assertive. Hell provide an important boost at the start of league play.

Davion Mintz

Height/weight:6-3, 185

Class:Senior

Position:Combo guard

Hometown:Charlotte, North Carolina

An ankle injury tempered Mintzs enthusiasm after a productive summer, but his athleticism offensively and his effort defensively will make him a valuable asset when he returns.

Shereef Mitchell

Height/weight:6-0, 155

Class:Freshman

Position:Point guard

Hometown:Omaha, Nebraska

The Omaha Burke grad stepped on the CU practice floor with confidence after spending a year in prep school to add strength and improve his jump shot. Hes super quick. And he defends tenaciously.

Jordan Scurry

Height/weight:6-2, 200

Class:Senior

Position:Wing

Hometown:Dedham, Massachusetts.

Scurry played in just 12 games last year, but he consistently uplifts and inspires his teammates in practice. Hes been awarded with a scholarship the last two seasons because of that.

Jalen Windham

Height/weight:6-5, 180

Class:Freshman

Position:Wing

Hometown:Indianapolis, Indiana

He averaged 17.9 points per game as a senior in the highest level of Indiana high school basketball. Hes brought that scorers mentality to Creighton. Watch out when he gets hot.

Marcus Zegarowski

Height/weight:6-2, 180

Class:Sophomore

Position:Point guard

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'Didn't quite have enough gas in the tank': Despite halftime lead, Creighton men fall to Michigan - Omaha World-Herald

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