(Photo credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports)
Ryan Kalkbrenner, Trey Alexander and Baylor Scheierman have Creighton playing at an expected high level to open the season.
The trio tries to continue a run of success Wednesday when the eighth-ranked Bluejays face Loyola-Chicago at the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, Mo.
Creighton (4-0)ranks among the national leaders in scoring (92.0 points per game) and field-goal percentage (53.7). The Bluejays also are shooting 40 percent from 3-point range while winning their first four games by an average margin of 30 points.
Alexander (21.0 points per game, 56.4 percent from the floor), Scheierman (18.0 ppg, 52.2 percent) and the 7-foot-1 Kalkbrenner (12.8 ppg, 71.0 percent) have hit the ground running.
Scheierman and Alexander combined for 43 points on 14-of-29 shooting, while Kalkbrenner added 16 with 10 rebounds and four blocks during Saturday's 82-50 win over Texas Southern.
"Trey, Baylor and Kalk, obviously, there's a great connection there," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "I've liked our chemistry."
That threesome will be on display amid the bright lights of the two-day Hall of Fame Classic, as the Bluejays leave the comforts of home for the first time in 2023-24.
"It's going to be fun," said Alexander, who also is averaging 7.3 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.5 assists.
"For us to be able to travel ... I'm excited to get that part of the season going."
Creighton will face Loyola (2-2) for the first time since winning 70-61 in the first round of the 2019 National Invitation Tournament. The Ramblers made four consecutive postseason tournament appearances (three NCAAs, NIT) prior to going 10-21 in 2022-23.
Loyola is scoring just 72.8 points per contest on the young season, but holding opponents to 70.5.
"Loyola Chicago, they've had a long tradition of success, especially the last six or seven years," McDermott said. "So, obviously, that will be a challenging game."
However, this matchup would seem to pose more of a challenge to the Ramblers than the Bluejays. Especially since talented Loyola forward Philip Alston (10.3 ppg) will not be available for either game in Kansas City after he missed Saturday's 73-70 home victory over New Orleans, reportedly due to a calf strain.
Meanwhile, Dame Adelekun stepped up to record season highs of 22 points and 11 rebounds versus the Privateers. Des Watson scored 19 points for Loyola, which shot 43.1 percent, held a 47-37 rebounding advantage and limited New Orleans to 34.8 shooting.
However, the Privateers made nine 3-pointers and outscored the Ramblers by seven in the second half to make things interesting.
"You've got to find ways to win, and it's not always going to be pretty," Loyola coach Drew Valentine said.
"The guys did a good job stepping up (on Saturday)."
Loyola will face its second top-10 opponent already this season after falling 75-62 to then-No. 10 Florida Atlantic in its opener.
The winner of this contest will face either Colorado State or Boston College in Thursday's championship game. Meanwhile, the loser will participate in the consolation contest.
--Field Level Media