Creighton has had to take a new approach this season following the departure of star Doug McDermott to the NBA. It’s been working pretty well for the Bluejays so far.
They’ll look to exceed their season-opening win streak of 2013-14 when they face Mississippi in the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Florida on Friday night.
Creighton (5-0) has had a different leading scorer in every victory. On Tuesday, it was reserve center Geoffrey Groselle, who had 15 points in the No. 23 Bluejays’ 75-53 win over Eastern Illinois.
Isaiah Zierden, Will Artino, Rick Kreklow and Austin Chatman have also led Creighton in scoring, with Chatman delivering 17 points and 11 rebounds in a 65-63 victory over then-No. 18 Oklahoma last Wednesday.
Last season, the McDermott-led Bluejays won their first five before dropping the next two.
"We’re growing, we’re developing, we’re trying to figure out rotations still," coach Greg McDermott said. "We said it since the start of the season: It’s probably going to be different guys every night. I never guessed we’d have five different leading scorers the first five games.
"I view it as a strength, that there’s different guys who can step up on different nights and produce for us."
Chatman is averaging 9.6 points, 4.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds as the only returning starter from last season, during which Doug McDermott averaged 26.7 points to lead the nation.
Six Bluejays are averaging at least 8.0 points, though only Zierden (14 for 32) has been accurate from 3-point range. Creighton is shooting 32.8 percent from beyond the arc.
"Our team isn’t shooting the ball nearly as well as we’re capable of, which is hopefully the silver lining," McDermott said. "We’re 5-0, we’ve got a win over a top-20 program, and I don’t think we’ve shot the ball anywhere close to what we’re capable of. Hopefully, as the season goes along, we settle in and shoot a little bit better from the 3-point line."
Ole Miss (3-1) could cause problems for Creighton in that department. The Rebels have held opponents to 27.4 percent on 3s and 32.9 percent overall, which ranks among the best in the country.
Mississippi has rebounded from a stunning 65-64 overtime loss to Charleston Southern in its opener by beating Troy, Southern and most recently, Northern Arizona 80-74 on Sunday.
"We’re four games into this, and have learned a lot about this group," coach Andy Kennedy said. "I honestly didn’t know I had this much to learn, but I have learned a lot."
Jarvis Summers, the only senior starter for the Rebels, leads them with 14.3 points per game. Four players are averaging at least 5.0 rebounds, led by sophomore Sebastian Saiz at 5.8. Ole Miss is grabbing 44.8 boards per game, among the best marks in the country.
The Rebels have never faced Creighton. Ole Miss has dropped its last six regular-season games against ranked opponents and 38 of 46.
McDermott, however, isn’t planning on letting his team take anyone for granted.
"We’re ranked 23rd in the country, let’s act like it," McDermott said. "Let’s practice like it, let’s prepare like it. We’re going to get everybody’s best shot as long as we’ve got that ranking next to our name."