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Creighton, DePaul make Big East holiday history

Dec 22, 2022; Omaha, Nebraska, USA;  Creighton Bluejays center Ryan Kalkbrenner (11) scores over Butler Bulldogs center Manny Bates (15) in the second half at CHI Health Center Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the losing streak is out of the way, it’s time for Creighton to make some moves.

Doing so in a special holiday matchup with DePaul could add to the value for the Bluejays.

“The first thing you think about this time of the year is how grateful you are for the blessings and opportunities that you have,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “That’s being able to count on each other, not just in good times but in tough times. Whatever we do, let’s have a little fun with it.”

Creighton and DePaul meet Sunday afternoon at Omaha, Neb.

This will be the first-ever Big East Conference game on Christmas Day. Creighton’s only previous Christmas game was a 1953 loss at Seattle, while DePaul’s lone Dec. 25 outing since 1945 was a 2014 setback to Loyola Marymount in Honolulu.

“It’s an incredible exposure opportunity for our program, for our university, for our fan base,” McDermott said, noting he consulted with his players before committing to the date in the offseason. “We’d love to do it. There’s not a lot of college basketball on Christmas Day, so they were all about it.

“I think our fans will embrace it. It’s a bit of an experiment. I think sometimes when those opportunities present themselves, you have to take advantage.”

Creighton (7-6, 1-1 Big East) snapped a six-game losing streak by defeating Butler 78-56 on Thursday night. Much of that came with the return of center Ryan Kalkbrenner from a three-game illness-related absence as he posted 19 points.

DePaul (6-6, 0-1) hasn’t played since a Dec. 17 loss at Northwestern. The Blue Demons committed 22 turnovers, so they’ve had lots to work on during the layoff.

“I take the blame for this, the preparation, the lack of fight,” coach Tony Stubblefield said after that setback.

Sunday’s game pits Big East preseason favorite Creighton against the team picked to finish last in the league.

The Blue Demons are 2-5 away from home.

Creighton has won 16 in a row and 21 of the last 22 meetings with DePaul, sweeping last season’s two meetings by a combined 25 points.

This marks the Bluejays’ last game until Jan. 3.

–Field Level Media