The pass was still in flight to an open Kaleb Joseph and Georgetown’s coaches already were bemoaning yet another defensive miscue against a well-organized Creighton attack.
“Oh, my God.”
Someone on the Hoya bench uttered the words even before Joseph had gathered the pass and fired up an in-rhythm 3-pointer. The senior guard made the shot, capping a momentum-flipping 10-0 spurt and forcing coach Patrick Ewing to call another first-half timeout.
It was evident right then, if not before, that the Jays’ pace, ball movement and spacing would be creating havoc for Georgetown all Saturday afternoon. Ewing said afterward that he didn’t think the Hoyas brought enough effort — but CU looked as dialed into its offensive game plan as it’s been in some time.
The Jays hit 14 3-pointers, shot 51.8 percent and recorded 20 assists on 29 makes, building a first-half lead and holding Georgetown off from there in an 82-69 victory Saturday at CHI Health Center.
“We were getting them spaced out, we were attacking gaps, we were getting into the paint,” said Joseph, who scored a career-best 16 points. “We got easy looks.”
The Hoyas (16-11, 6-8) never did adjust. Creighton didn’t let up, either.
The Jays (15-13, 6-9) put together that aforementioned first-half stretch, wiping away Georgetown’s one-point lead and putting themselves ahead 31-22 with four minutes left before halftime. Creighton hit four straight shots during that run, then made its next four after that, too.
CU nailed four 3-pointers in the first six minutes of the second half, going up by as many as 18 points. The Hoyas showed glimpses of threatening after that, but they never could get the key stops to really put the pressure on.
There was Joseph’s three-point play on a drive to the rim, and sophomore Ty-Shon Alexander’s 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock and junior Martin Krampelj’s and-one putback. Sophomore Mitch Ballock blocked a shot and triggered the CU fast break, leading to a layup for Joseph.
“They’re a unique team,” Ewing said. “They spread you out and they space the floor. They get backdoor cuts, they hit 3s. You have to help and then they skip the ball to the weakside for 3s.
“But still, we’re a good enough team that we should be able to have handled it.”
Then again, Creighton hadn’t been so sharp lately.
Injuries played a part in that. A team-wide shooting slump did, too. But still, CU had dipped down to sixth in offensive efficiency in Big East play at the start of the week, according to Ken Pomeroy’s data.
The Jays shot 41.1 percent from the floor during the most recent four-game losing streak. They averaged 0.91 points per possession.
But they seemed to find their rhythm in a win at DePaul on Wednesday. They carried it over into Saturday’s game.
“We haven’t lost confidence in their ability to shoot it,” coach Greg McDermott said. “They haven’t lost confidence in themselves. Their routine has stayed consistent. I think if you do that, usually good things will happen.”
Junior Davion Mintz and Ballock made 3-pointers on CU’s first two offensive possessions to set the tone. Creighton ended up with 14 3s, its best single-game total in a month. The 20 assists were three shy of a season high against a conference foe.
Georgetown tried a zone. It used a full-court press at times. It experimented with multiple lineup combinations.
But the Jays kept sprinting, moving the ball, creating for one another and converting high-percentage looks. The result was a convincing win.
“That’s how we play,” Ballock said. “It’s a beauty to watch, and it’s tough to defend. I think we got back to that. We made it an emphasis.”