OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Now things get serious for Creighton.
The 10th-ranked Bluejays beat UC Riverside 80-51 Thursday night in their final tuneup before the Maui Invitational, where they could face as many as three AP Top 25 teams next week after beating four low-major opponents by an average of 26.5 points.
“Transferring to Creighton, a big reason why was to play the high-level teams,” Baylor Scheierman said. “It's going to be on a national stage, and it's going to be a lot of fun.”
Scheierman scored 17 points in his best offensive game since transferring from South Dakota State. Ryan Kalkbrenner, Arthur Kaluma and Trey Alexander had 12 points apiece for the Bluejays (4-0).
Wil Tattersall had 11 points to lead the Highlanders (1-2), who were 3 of 19 on 3-pointers and shot 35.5% overall.
“Tonight was our best game,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “This was the best team we've played. We’re not having any more of these games the rest of the year. It’s basically Power Five competition from here on out, so hopefully this has prepared us for it.”
Scheierman, who was 2 of 8 from the field against Holy Cross on Monday, made back-to-back 3s to start the game. Creighton went into a lull, and that allowed the Highlanders to take two leads totaling one minute. Zyon Pullin’s jumper put them up 26-25 before they missed 10 of their next 11 shots.
That's when Creighton went on a tear. Kaluma’s 3 began a 16-2 run to close the half and send the Bluejays into the locker room ahead 41-28. They never led by fewer than 12 points in the second half.
Next up for Creighton is its Maui opener against No. 23 Texas Tech on Monday. The Bluejays play either No. 9 Arkansas or Louisville on Tuesday. Their Wednesday game is to be determined, with No. 14 Arizona or No. 17 San Diego State among possible opponents.
“I can’t wait to play some high-caliber teams that are supposed to be Top 25,” Alexander said. “I think we'll be able to showcase our abilities. We definitely can’t wait to get out there and play against some of the best players in the nation, just to see how we match up.”
UC Riverside: The Highlanders came from 18 points down to win at Loyola Marymount last week, but they didn't have the firepower to keep up once the Bluejays got going.
Creighton: The game illustrated how many offensive options the Bluejays have. Scheierman disappeared in Monday's game and led the team in scoring Thursday. Kalkbrenner is dominant around the basket and has developed a perimeter shot. Kaluma is good for double figures every night. Alexander is a slasher. The bench is deep.
Kalkbrenner hit his first three shots to extend his consecutive field goals streak to 22. He had made his last nine against North Dakota and went 10 for 10 against Holy Cross before making a couple short shots and a 3-pointer against the Highlanders. His streak ended when a 3 from the wing bounced off the rim.
UC Riverside hosts Division III Occidental College on Saturday.
Creighton faces No. 23 Texas Tech on Monday in Hawaii.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25