The Creighton men’s basketball team hosted Minnesota in a closed scrimmage to open the 2018-19 season. Minnesota won the first half 46-41 before the teams reset the score and played a second half, won by Creighton 40-37. The teams once again reset the score and played a third session of just eight minutes, won by the Bluejays 19-9.
“It was great for our team just to play against somebody else,” said Creighton head coach Greg McDermott. “It’s been 15 or 16 practices beating on each other, looking at each other every day and I think it was refreshing to get out and compete against someone else. Early season, we probably turned it over too much and our shot selection the second half was better than the first half. I think our decisions were better in the second half on both ends of the floor. I think we cleaned some things up defensively the second half and as a result we played a little bit better the last 20 minutes than we did the first 20 minutes. Minnesota’s a good team, they’ve got a lot of length, they’re very experienced in the guard-court with who they return, so I think it was a competitive game that was really good for us. It gave us a chance to really get a lot of young players on the floor and have some good film to evaluate.”
The Gophers started quickly in each of the first two halves, racing to an 8-1 lead to start the day and a 7-0 start in the second half. Both times, Creighton would answer.
In the first session, Creighton regrouped to retake a 13-12 lead on a three-point play by junior guard Davion Mintz. The teams would have six ties and seven lead changes in the opening 20 minutes. Minnesota took the lead for good on a a free throw by Michael Hurt with 5:44 in the half to move ahead 35-34. Neither team fouled in the final 56 seconds of the half as one might normally expect in a close game.
Ty-Shon Alexander led Creighton with 10 points in the first half, while Mintz and Martin Krapmelj added seven points. Krampelj added a team-high two steals while showing no ill effects from season-ending knee surgery last February and logging 21 minutes on the day. The Gophers were paced by 10 points from Gabe Kalscheur, and owned a 22-17 lead in rebounds.
The teams reset the score at halftime and switched ends of the floor, and Creighton would win the second half, 40-37. After Minnesota scored the first seven points, the Jays came back with a 6-0 run that included buckets by Mintz, Jacob Epperson and Krampelj. The Bluejays moved ahead 14-11 on a three-pointer by New Mexico transfer Damien Jefferson, who made his Bluejay debut in the scrimmage.
The second half remained tight, and was deadlocked at 37-all after a jumper by Kalescheur with 1:26 to go. CU would work the ball around on its next possession and Jefferson fed freshman Samson Froling, who drained a three-pointer for the final points of the half. Both teams had two more scoreless possessions, as once again neither team fouled down the stretch as is frequently the case.
Epperson and Froling each had seven points in the second session, while Jordan Murphy topped Minnesota with 11 points. CU won the board battle 20-17 and shot 16-for-32 from the field.
After a short break, the score was once again reset for an eight-minute session that was won by Creighton, 19-9. Froling had eight points on 4-of-5 shooting to pace a Bluejay squad that made 9-of-15 shots and held the Gophers to 3-of-11 marksmanship.
Creighton will host a public exhibition game next Saturday against Winona State at 7 p.m.