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No. 10 Creighton men's basketball uses second-half surge to down No. 21 Texas Tech in Maui

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Jaylon Tyson got up close and personal. No. 21 Texas Tech was grilling No. 10 Creighton men’s basketball, having forced seven turnovers in fewer than six minutes. Junior Ryan Kalkbrenner found himself with position down low on Red Raiders guard Kerwin Walton. Then Tyson came out of nowhere, harassing Kalkbrenner off the block and swinging down at the ball before being whistled for a foul.

Down seven, the Jays looked visibly uncomfortable. Tyson knew that. He leaned over Kalkbrenner and aggressively clapped in his ear. Creighton wasn’t in Omaha anymore.

But the Jays refused to stay put. A deep 3 from senior Baylor Scheierman just five seconds later became the first blow that helped them come off the ropes in a 76-65 Monday morning Maui Invitational win that required constant adjustment to a defense unlike anything they’d seen all season.

“You can prep all you want, but it’s so hard to simulate the physicality of their defense and the quickness of their rotations,” coach Greg McDermott said.

Despite finally producing fruitful half-court possessions, Creighton’s turnovers troubles weren’t over just yet. A genie couldn’t foretell just how much TTU would dig into the Jays early.

Traveling violations. Getting picked off at the top of their offense. Being stifled upon catching the ball. Creighton coughed up the ball four times through the first two minutes of play.

This wasn’t entirely a surprise. Texas Tech has long been known to be so disruptive. First under Chris Beard, now under Mark Adams. But the Jays hadn’t faced a team that worked so hard to push it off its spots.

“Things look open,” McDermott said. “… As you start to probe, it looks like it's open. And then everything gets closed off. Then you have to make the right read.”

Creighton took time to sit down on defense. It hit big shot after big shot to stick around and take leads. Scheierman — who finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and found more looks than his three assists will allude to — and sophomore Ryan Nemhard’s poise certainly helped. But the team remained bothered by the ball pressure. Sophomores Trey Alexander and Arthur Kaluma saw the worst of it.

The two combined for eight of Creighton’s 13 first-half turnovers. Alexander would get pushed off his spots. Kaluma was often frozen in place, struggling to find the open man while Kevin Obanor’s hands were draped all over him.

Despite an uncharacteristic half of ball security, the Jays headed into halftime tied at 31 with the Red Raiders. Then everything shifted.

Through the final 20 minutes, Creighton never committed another turnover. After having 13 fewer first-half possessions than Texas Tech in the first half, the Jays suddenly unleashed their offense.

The ball rarely stuck. The team snagged some pivotal boards. Creighton continued to hit huge shots, going 9-for-20 from deep. All five starters wound up in double figures, with Alexander and Kaluma virtually erasing any memory of their first half shortcomings.

When found in the same positions that drove Kaluma to a rough first 20 minutes, he changed his footing. He broke out of the mud, instead pivoting to find signature looks and show off touch inside the arc. Alexander hit a wild shot for an and-one and drilled a couple 3s before the day ended.

“I thought those two really settled in and made plays for themselves and for their teammates in the second half,” McDermott said. “That has to be who we are.”

On the other end, the Jays contained the Red Raiders about as well as they could. Texas Tech’s De’Vion Harmon showed off his craft with the finesse behind his layups. But Alexander and junior Ryan Kalkbrenner made life in the pick-and-roll for him as tough as possible.

The Jays' found themselves rolling on both ends. Their lead swelled to double digits with roughly 11 minutes left, and they refused to be knocked off their block the rest of the way. CU cruised before sending the Red Raiders overboard, forced to play the loser of Arkansas and Louisville.

“First time on the road with this team, maybe anxious and excited, but we certainly weren’t ourselves early in that game,” McDermott said. "Once we settled in, I thought we were pretty good. But it’s not easy to prepare for.”

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