No. 23 Creighton runs past Eastern Illinois 75-53

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) This time, it was Geoffrey Groselle’s turn to lead Creighton in scoring.

The 7-foot reserve had a career-high 15 points in the No. 23 Bluejays’ 75-53 win over Eastern Illinois on Tuesday night in the Emerald Coast Classic.

Creighton (5-0) celebrated coach Greg McDermott’s 50th birthday with a victory in its first game as a ranked team this season. It has had a different leading scorer in each of its five games.

Groselle made his first five shots and finished 7 of 8 from the field while scoring in double figures for the first time in his three years at Creighton.

”I just made layups. I didn’t really do anything special,” Groselle said. ”My teammates really made the plays and I was there to finish.”

Creighton, which lost national player of the year Doug McDermott and three other starters, upset Oklahoma last week and is undefeated after five games for the fourth year in a row.

”I’m not sure many people gave us a chance to be 5-0 at this time,” Greg McDermott said. ”All five were at home. Oklahoma was an outstanding team. The other games are games you’d like to think you would win if you do what you’re supposed to do. For the most part we’ve done what we’re supposed to do.”

Toby Hegner added 13 points for Creighton, which led by as many as 33 points.

Chris Olivier and Trae Anderson scored nine points apiece for Eastern Illinois (1-4).

Olivier, the Panthers’ scoring leader at better than 13 points a game, was held out of the starting lineup for the first time because coach Jay Spoonhour wanted him to put out more effort on defense. Olivier was the first man off the bench but got into foul trouble and played just 15 minutes.

”For us to be good, he has to play good on both ends,” Spoonhour said.

Groselle entered five minutes into the game and matched his previous career high with eight points in his first five trips down the court.

”Geoff really came off the bench and gave us a huge lift with his ability to catch the ball high, keep it high and score around the basket,” McDermott said.

TIP-INS

Creighton: The Bluejays are 56-2 in regular-season non-conference home games since losing to Drexel in 2007. … Seniors Avery Dingman, Will Artino and Devin Brooks sang ”Happy Birthday” to McDermott in a video clip shown on the scoreboard before the second half. McDermott said he appreciated the gesture but joked that he was underwhelmed. ”That was maybe as poor an exhibition of rhythm as I’ve seen in a long time,” he said.

Eastern Illinois: The Panthers are 0-18 all-time against Top 25 opponents and have never played any of them closer than 10 points. … Eastern Illinois, which came in shooting 68.8 percent on free throws, was just 3 of 14 from the line. … Luke Piotrowski, a 6-foot-11 redshirt sophomore forward, had his streak of blocking at least one shot end at eight games.

EX-MANAGER FINDS SPOTLIGHT

Gabriel Connealy, a student manager the last three seasons and now a senior walk-on for the Bluejays, played the last 5:27 and found himself in a pressure situation when he stepped to the line for two free throws in the last minute. Creighton needed two points to hit the 75 necessary for fans to win free pizza. He came through. ”There was a lot at stake for him,” teammate Toby Hegner said. ”He said he didn’t even want to shoot them because he was so nervous, but he made them.”

UP NEXT

Creighton plays Mississippi on Friday in Niceville, Florida.

Eastern Illinois plays North Carolina Central on Friday in Niceville, Florida.