The 15th-ranked Creighton Bluejays continue their season-opening four-game homestand tonight when they takes on the UAB Blazers at CenturyLink Center in Omaha.
In Jerod Haase's first game as head coach for UAB, he was able to lead his team to a 105-59 win over Young Harris College last Friday night. Haase had spent the previous 13 seasons as an assistant under Roy Williams at both North Carolina and Kansas. It was a strong start for the Blazers, who lost last season's opener to, coincidentally enough, Creighton.
Creighton also opened up on Friday and posted an easy 71-51 win over the North Texas Mean Green, who figure to be one of the favorites in the Sun Belt Conference this season. The Bluejays have a couple of impressive streaks going, as they have won 39 straight games in the month of November, and have logged 38 consecutive victories over non-conference opponents at home.
Last year's meeting was the only time these two schools have ever played each other, with Creighton coming out on top, 70-60.
The Blazers came out firing on all cylinders in the opener by draining 53.6 percent of their total shots, while holding Young Harris below 28 percent. They had six players finish in double figures, led by 17 points apiece by Jordan Swing and Robert Williams. Swing, who is the team's top returning scorer (11.2 ppg), also added seven rebounds and four assists, and he will be a focal point at the offensive end this season. Fahro Alihodzic registered 16 points and eight boards as well as two steals and a block. Preston Purifoy scored 13 points off the bench, and Terence Jones had 13 points and five assists. Rod Rucker (eight points) was the only starter who failed to score in double digits, but he was far from ineffective as he ripped down a team-high 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-5 forward was playing in his first game for the Blazers and he averaged a double-double (12.4 ppg, 10.0 rpg) for Northwest Florida State last season.
Creighton has routinely finished as one of the top scoring teams in the nation over the past several seasons, so that fact that it shot 50 percent from the field wasn't unexpected, but it also played great defense against a capable Mean Green squad, holding them to just 31.9 percent from the floor. Not surprisingly, the Bluejays were led by Doug McDermott, who shot 6-of-11 from the floor in netting 21 points and he also grabbed 11 rebounds. Performances like that are expected on a nightly basis from McDermott, who was a 2011-12 First Team All-American (22.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg). Austin Chatman made his first career start a memorable one with 11 points, and Avery Dingman had a hot hand off the bench, shooting 4-of-5 from the field en route to 10 points. While Creighton has to be encouraged by its season-opening effort, it would certainly like to improve upon its three-point shooting (5-of-18) as the season goes along.