No. 24 BYU, Creighton bid to stay hot at other's expense
BYU and Creighton will meet in a nonconference neutral site game Saturday afternoon with the hope of each trying to build on recent success.
The teams will play each other at the Sanford Pentagon at Sioux Falls, S.D.
The 24th-ranked Cougars (8-1) have won two consecutive games since dropping a 72-65 decision in overtime to Utah Valley on Dec. 1.
Creighton (7-2) won three straight games before losing at home to then-No. 19 Iowa State 64-58 last Saturday.
Alex Barcello had 17 points and Te'Jon Lucas added 14 points and six assists in BYU's 82-71 win over Utah State on Wednesday at Provo, Utah.
Despite a 0-of-6 stretch from the field late in the second half, BYU shot 50.0 percent from the field. The Cougars recorded 19 assists on their 26 made field goals.
"We are a good shooting team and our guys are in a flow right now," BYU coach Mark Pope said. "With more space on the floor, we are doing better earning each other good shots."
Creighton's Ryan Hawkins had a season-high 25 points against Iowa State, while Ryan Nembhard finished with 10.
Creighton's 21 turnovers were its most in a game since Nov. 29, 2008, when it had 24 at Nebraska.
The Bluejays' 22-game nonconference home win streak came to a halt, as did their seven-game home winning streak.
"Our turnovers led to too many of their baskets," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "We found a way to stick in there and hang with them. We made too many mistakes and when you make mistakes at this level, you pay for them."
Creighton's five assists tied a program-low in 12 seasons under McDermott, matching the amount at Northern Iowa on Feb. 4, 2012.
The Bluejays will face a BYU defense that forced 17 turnovers by Utah State that resulted in 12 points. The Cougars had 31 rebounds, five steals and one block to boot.
Conversely, BYU has committed a turnover on just 16.2 percent of its possessions this season. The Cougars have turned the ball over an average of 11.0 times per game this season.
"As a coach, I am really blessed to have a locker room full of guys who are capable and willing to play different ways, on defense and in our offense," Pope said. "They give us as a staff this incredible gift of being willing to approach the game a little bit differently and refocus and grow."
Barcello, formerly of Arizona, leads BYU at 18.6 points a game while shooting 53.6 percent from the field, including 42.5 percent from 3-point range. He also has a team-high 10 steals.
Fousseyni Traore has become a force inside for BYU off the bench with 6.3 rebounds a game.
The Bluejays have been led by Hawkins, who is averaging 13.3 points and 6.3 rebounds.
Nembhard averages 12.7 points a game. He is shooting 50 percent (12 of 24) from 3-point range.
--Field Level Media
Updated December 9, 2021