What to Expect: Creighton

  • 11/18/2015 1:25 pm in

The Gavitt Tipoff Games come to Bloomington for the first time on Thursday night as Indiana faces off with Creighton of the Big East. 

The game will be broadcast live on BTN at 7 p.m. ET with Kevin Kugler and Seth Davis on the call. 

Indiana’s non-conference schedule is ramping up beginning Thursday as the Hoosiers begin a six-game stretch that could feature five major-conference opponents.

Up first is Creighton, picked to finish in the bottom half of this year’s Big East before IU leaves on Friday for the Maui Invitational, which is filled with several formidable opponents. The Hoosiers will then get Alcorn State at Assembly Hall upon returning home before a trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium to meet Duke caps off what will be a challenging stretch.

Through two games, Indiana has been the team most expected it to be: Elite offensively with plenty of work to do defensively. But the Hoosiers have yet to be challenged by an opponent good enough to give us an idea of how this group stacks up nationally. That will change beginning on Thursday night in Bloomington.


Creighton finished last season just 14-19 overall and 4-14 in conference play, but it wasn’t as if the Bluejays weren’t competitive. Greg McDermott’s team had to adjust to losing his son and 2014 national player of the year, Doug, and struggled to finish out close games. Overall, Creighton lost 10 games by five or fewer points.

There’s reason for some optimism this season in Omaha as McDermott welcomes a pair of transfers in Cole Huff and Maurice Watson Jr. and a freshman in Khryi Thomas who should all make immediate impacts.

Through two games, McDermott has started a three-guard set with Watson Jr., Thomas and junior Isaiah Zierden.

The 6-foot-3 Zierden had to be shut down for the final 13 games last season after suffering a knee injury, but is leading the team in scoring thus far at 19.5 points per game. He hit 39.6 percent of his 3s last season and ranked in the top 40 nationally in turnover rate (just 9.6 percent).

Watson Jr., a 5-foot-10 point guard who transferred from Boston University, has 12 assists in two games and averaged 13.3 points and more than seven assists as a sophomore before arriving at Creighton. His assist rate of 49.9 was second in the country during the 2013-2014 season at Boston U.

Thomas, a 3-star recruit who is originally from Omaha but played a year of prep school in Virginia for his final high school season, averaged 13.7 points on Creighton’s three-game preseason trip to Italy.

Senior guard James Milliken has come off the bench the first two games, but averaged 9.6 points and shot nearly 39 percent on 3s last season. JUCO guard Malik Albert is expected to provide backcourt depth and has a team-high 13 assists through two games.

In the frontcourt, Huff, who was a highly sought after transfer from Nevada, is the headliner. At 6-foot-8, he shot better than 40 percent on 3s as a sophomore at Nevada and finished in the top 15 in the Mountain West Conference in scoring.

7-foot senior Geoffrey Groselle starts at the five and finished close to 65 percent of his 2s last season, but isn’t much of a shot blocking presence.

Toby Hegner, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, averaged 6.7 points last season and has hit 4-of-9 3s in 21 minutes off the bench through the team’s first two games. In a somewhat surprising move, five-star recruit Justin Patton, who is from Omaha, is redshirting this season to work on his strength and to also put on weight.


Both teams are averaging north of 73 possessions through two games, so a high scoring game with an up and down pace is the expectation.

Creighton was a top 65 offense nationally last season, but only shot in the mid 30s on 3s and only converted 47.6 percent of its 2s. Those numbers should be better this year, but how much better could determine just how much of a move the Bluejays make in the Big East standings.

The sample size is obviously small, but through two games, Creighton has given up a point per possession against Texas Southern and UTSA and is allowing an effective field goal percentage defense north of 55.

Indiana shouldn’t have a problem scoring, but will the Hoosiers be able to get consistent stops? It bears watching how IU approaches guarding Huff, who has to be accounted for all over the floor. Additionally, Yogi Ferrell will have to limit the playmaking ability of Watson Jr., who will look to set his teammates up for easy scoring opportunities early.


After a pair of games it was able to cruise through in Eastern Illinois and Austin Peay, Indiana’s schedule is about to become much tougher.

Pomeroy likes the Hoosiers to win by 13 with an 86 percent chance for victory and the line in Vegas for this game opened at IU by 12.5.

Creighton appears to have the offensive pieces to push Indiana defensively, but can the Bluejays slow down Indiana’s elite offense? The Hoosiers are coming off a terrific shooting performance in their last outing and will be looking for a strong performance before heading to Maui for three games in three days.

(Photo credit: Eric Francis/Getty Images North America)

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  • sarge


  • Show-Me-State HOOSIER

    AMEN! Practice this wed fellas….will consist of DEFENSIVE DRILLS, DEFENSIVE DRILLS, DEFENSIVE DRILLS!

  • SilentBob

    This could be a tough game depending on pace, but I think we out run them and win by 9 or 10. Would love for us to be able to keep Thomas’ minutes as low as possible to keep him fresh for that strenuous 3 day stretch in Maui.

  • bvillehoosier

    I’ll be there with a few buddies, hopefully the crowd gets into it a little bit!

  • O.G.Ehman

    I feel the Hoosiers are going to come out hot and jump all over Creighton. Assembly Hall is going to be loud for it’s “best” non-conference game and we see some PRILLER TIME© in the final couple minutes.

    Hoosiers – 92
    Bad Guys – 70

  • SCHoosier

    They start a 3 guard offense with two bigs..wonder if rob J will get the start tonight? Sounds like the best match up. D up, play under control and we should see victory #3 of the season.

  • IU track Alumni

    X factor for this game…??? I’m thinking Thomas Bryant explodes for 25 and 15. You heard it here first! Go Hoosiers!

  • sarge

    I like that pick given their roster. You can never rule out Yogi too.

  • Hardwood83

    IU is clearly the better team, but not sure I’m 86% confident in a victory. If IU combines the Defensive effort of Eastern Ill vs the Offense they showed against Austin Peay, they’ll win by 25…..of course if they do that consitently they’ll be a top 3 team nationally.

  • INUnivHoosier

    I think you might be right, but I’d actually like to see them go with Hartman starting for Max, leaving Max to backup Bryant. A little taller lineup that will draw a size mismatch for Troy or Colin.

  • Speed

    I would rather win 70 to 55 than 95 to 80 which would prove that this team can play defense. UK demonstrated that last night in their win over Duke and the Hoosiers have a lot more experience than UK. We’re going to exceed 20 wins but we need solid D to make this season special.

  • IUJeff

    To only be favored at home by 12 or 13 over Creighton is a slap.

  • Jack Handey

    yeah. statistics, computer models and vegas odds be damned. what do they know…

  • straight no chaser

    If we beat the #287 (per kenpom) team by 26, why wouldn’t we beat the #74 team by 13?

  • Zach

    I expect the Hall to be more rowdy for the biggest non-conference home game and hopefully the boys feed off the energy. I’ll be there early in GA to see some 3’s and more importantly SOME D!

  • Bill Graham

    Lets not underestimate this Creighton team. McDermott is good coach and he is obviously very good at player development…just look at their all time leading scorer #dougiefresh #teachmehowtodougie. Anyway who knows what kind of jumps his guys have made over the offseason. We just need to play and execute to our level not Creightons. I’d like to see James keep his man in front of him a bit more. Also, I’d like to see Rob catch fire a bit.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Their defense is worse than ours from what I’ve seen so my only concern is if Dougie McBuckets shows up with a shoddy fake mustache disguise and drops 50 on us.

  • TomJameson

    IU hasn’t had much of a reputation the last few years of coming out hot. Usually a slow start, a couple of scoring spurts, and a fairly good finish. I’d be okay with that, especially with your score.

    I really wish IU could come out and just smash Creighton in the mouth to start the game. That would set a great tone going into Maui.

  • TomJameson

    Yogi, JBJ, Troy, Collin, TB. RJ will come off the bench fairly quickly for his defensive presence and that spark of energy he provides.

    Just my guess of course.

  • TomJameson

    They do have that 7 footer that starts. I hope TB gets that dude into foul trouble right off the bat. Feed the post and work the 7 footer … foul him out!

  • TomJameson

    I’d add in that I’d like to see everybody stay on their feet and not jump at every ball fake thrown at them!

  • IUJeff

    It’s a home game against the #4 team.. We should be favored by more IMO.

  • Meadows007

    Last year on this exact night we played SMU and the crowd was awesome. Although I know a lot of people that either have tests tonight or will have already left for Thanksgiving break, so hopefully the seats are close to full.

  • Ole Man

    They will run with us.

  • SeeingRed

    What I am hoping to see is solid execution in the half court — feeding the big fella the ball and getting inside-out rhythm 3’s instead of the constant quick trigger tendency of our shooters.

    I like run and gun as much as the next guy but there are matchups and off shooting nights where it will kill you later in big games if you can’t get higher percentage shots. IU has a legit post player this year, so let’s see what he can do and he can put that experience in the bank for important moments on down the line.

    Go get ’em, Thomas.

  • showjo

    I swear he’s the most energetic big man we’ve had since killingsworth