Something has to give as two undefeated teams, No. 10 Creighton and No. 23 Texas Tech, square off on Monday in the first round of the Maui Invitational in Lahaina, Hawaii.
The winner will play either Louisville or No. 9 Arkansas in the second round on Tuesday.
Texas Tech (3-0) swept through its season-opening homestand against Northwestern State, Texas Southern and Louisiana Tech.
The Red Raiders haven’t played since Nov. 14 when they handled Louisiana Tech 64-55 behind 15 points each from De’Vion Harmon and Kevin Obanor and 10 from Richard “Pop” Isaacs. Texas Tech led by as many as 15 points and never trailed.
The Red Raiders jumped out to an 8-0 advantage, were up 32-27 at halftime and pulled away midway through the second half via a 14-1 run during which Harmon scored nine points.
“Defensively we were really good early and kind of set the pace,” Texas Tech coach Mark Adams said. “I thought we were ready to play, but we had so many turnovers and got sloppy with the ball instead of just taking care of our business.”
The Red Raiders have hit 49 percent of their shots from the floor this season while holding their opponents to just 33.3 percent.
“We’ve got so many young kids on the team and it’s a lot of growing pains and we’re going to have to get through this,” Adams added. “Again, I’m praying for patience and I have to remember that because we did get the win and the guys played hard.”
The Bluejays (4-0) have started their campaign with wins over St. Thomas, North Dakota, Holy Cross and, most recently an 80-51 victory at home over UC Riverside on Thursday. Creighton was down by a point before closing the first half on a 16-2 run. Up by 14 at the break, the Bluejays put away the contest midway through the second half with a 15-0 spurt.
Baylor Scheierman led all scorers with a season-high 17 points, while Trey Alexander, Ryan Kalkbrenner and Arthur Kaluma added 12 points each for Creighton. Alexander also grabbed a career-high nine rebounds to lead the Bluejays to a 42-31 advantage on the boards. Creighton shot 52.5 percent from the field and had just seven turnovers in the victory.
“(The win against UC Riverside) was our best game,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “It was the best team we played. I really thought defensively, the last 10 minutes of the first and second halves were about as well as we played all year. I didn’t know how we would react to UC Riverside. The big thing was, are we getting better? Are we seeing individual progress, and as a result, collective progress?”
Creighton is 3-1 all-time against Texas Tech, including taking the most recent matchup in the series with an 83-76 overtime victory at the Las Vegas Classic in 2019. The four meetings have been decided by a total of 13 points.
–Field Level Media