Creighton and Iowa are located roughly 250 miles apart but rarely run into one another on the basketball floor.
That changes on Tuesday when the Hawkeyes make the trip to Omaha, Neb., to play No. 8 Creighton as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, featuring teams from the Big Ten and Big East.
The two squads haven’t played in nearly 12 years, and that contest marks the only time in 22-plus years that they met on the hardwood.
In that meeting, Doug McDermott — son of Greg, the Bluejays coach — scored 25 points in Creighton’s 82-59 romp on a neutral floor in Des Moines, Iowa, on Nov. 20, 2011.
Now the schools get back at it in what should be a high-scoring affair. Iowa (2-0) of the Big Ten averaged 104 points in its first two games and Creighton (2-0) of the Big East put up 97 per game.
Both teams faced North Dakota State. The Hawkeyes won 110-68 on Tuesday and Creighton prevailed 89-60 on Saturday.
Of course, the Bluejays are in the favorite’s role due to being a veteran squad that advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament last season before losing to San Diego State.
“I think our whole team is just really excited to see where we stack up,” Iowa freshman Brock Harding said. “Obviously, they’re a highly ranked team. We think we have a great chance of coming in there ready to go. And I think our guys are excited to get to play on a big stage early in the season.”
Creighton is led by preseason All-American big man Ryan Kalkbrenner (11.0 points per game), standout guard Trey Alexander (averaging 20.5 points and three steals) and forward Baylor Scheierman (16 ppg, six 3-pointers).
The Bluejays also nabbed Utah State guard Steven Ashworth (12 ppg, six treys) out of the transfer portal.
Alexander had a stellar all-around game against North Dakota State with 21 points, seven rebounds and a career-high five steals.
Kalkbrenner didn’t score in the first half but tallied 11 points in a 16-0 start to the second half as Creighton turned a 10-point halftime lead into a 57-31 advantage. Kalkbrenner finished with 13 points.
“A couple plays in the first half I let them push me off my spot,” Kalkbrenner said of the sluggish start. “In the second half, I tried to stay on my spot and stay where I could get the ball easier. Being more assertive before I get the ball was the big thing.”
Iowa blasted Alabama State 98-67 on Friday as Patrick McCaffery — son of coach Fran — led the way with 22 points and Payton Sandfort added 17 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
The Hawkeyes committed just six turnovers against Alabama State and have 13 in two games.
Now the competition level picks up dramatically and Patrick McCaffery said he and his teammates are ready to take Creighton’s best punch.
“We respect everybody but we fear no one,” Patrick McCaffery said. “We really need to kinda come in and push the envelope. It’s a great opportunity to compete. They’re a really good team.”
The Bluejays also are ready for the high-octane matchup.
“We’re trying to get up and down the court and I feel we do that as well as anybody in the country,” Alexander said. “So for us to play a team that likes to do what we do, I think it’s going to work well in our favor.”
–Field Level Media
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