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No. 21 Creighton, BYU meet in Las Vegas battle of slumping sides

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Both No. 21 Creighton and BYU will look to break their losing streak when they clash in Las Vegas on Saturday night as part of the Jack Jones Hoopfest.

The Bluejays (6-3) have lost three in a row since the Maui Invitational championship game. Their latest loss was 63-53 against archrival Nebraska on Sunday. Creighton lost a regular season game to the Cornhuskers for the first time since 1995 in Omaha.

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This is an unexpected negative momentum for the Blues given their high pre-season expectations. Creighton was the preseason favorite to win the Big Eastern Conference and was in the top 10 until he lost to Nebraska.

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“Being the victim of a hunt is a different matter,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “This team hasn’t fully adapted to it.”

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Poor street shooting prevented the Bluejays from succeeding. Creighton has shot just 14 of 67 (20.9 percent) from three-point range in the last two games. Francisco Farabello hit 5 of 9 3-point attempts against Nebraska while his teammates hit a total of 5 of 31 from long range.

The Bluejays also struggled to create an easy look or offensive momentum around the basket against Nebraska. The cornhuskers lost to them on the paint with a score of 46-16.

“We’ve had a tough week with the basketball,” McDermott said. “I can’t figure out why.”

BYU can understand this feeling. The Cougars (5-5) faced consecutive losses to South Dakota and the Utah Valley.

They fell 75-60 on Wednesday night, losing to Utah Valley for the second year in a row. Bad street shooting is doomed to die Cougars. They shot 4 of 26 from three-point range and made one three out of 11 attempts after the break.

The Wolverines used the 11-0 streak to take the lead midway through the second half.

“We’re still working really hard to find ourselves right now,” said BYU coach Mark Pope. “There are a lot of things we are not very good at right now. We know we’re not playing very well.”

The Cougars struggled to find consistency without senior quarterback Spencer Johnson on the court. Johnson missed four games due to a knee injury he sustained in a loss to Butler during Battle 4 Atlantis. He averaged 11 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists over six starts before he got injured.

BYU went 2-2 in his absence and needed to rally around with a 23-point deficit to secure one of the wins. The Cougars have let the opposition shoot 23 of 47 (48.9%) from three-point range in their last two games.

“We’re trying different things now,” Pope said. “We expose ourselves to different things and try to find what works best. But you know, it’s clear what we’re looking for.”

Creighton and BYU met last season in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where the Bluejays won 83-71. BYU leads the all-time series 7-4.

A win on Saturday would see Creighton record at least seven wins in the first 10 games for a 12th consecutive season.

–Field level media


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