No. 25 Creighton hosts USC Upstate in final Big East tune-up

OMAHA, Neb. — Creighton hopes to continue improving from 3-point range when it hosts USC Upstate on Wednesday.

The No. 25 Bluejays (9-2) made 13 of 32 from beyond the arc in Monday’s 95-85 victory over Texas-Arlington.

Bluejays senior guard Marcus Foster poured in a season-high 32 points, pulled down six rebounds and matched his season best with four assists Monday. It was the 29th consecutive game in which Foster has scored in double figures and his fourth career game in which he has scored at least 30 points.

Foster was 4 for 8 from 3-point range and helped Creighton increase its percentage from beyond the arc to 37.8.

“I got some pull-ups, got to the cup tonight, and then hit some 3s,” Foster told reporters. “I got to get that going, too, and not just settling for my 3s, to keep the defense off balance a little bit.”

Foster also realizes that he must set an example for the rest of his teammates on a consistent basis.

“I am one of the leaders, so if I’m not playing with high energy — like I was (Monday) — my teammates won’t follow my lead,” he said. “That’s something I’m going to have to do, and I’m going to have to be able to do it every single night.”

UT Arlington coach Scott Cross said future opponents are going to have trouble keeping up with Creighton’s speed, especially in transition.

“The speed they play at is absolutely amazing,” Cross said. “The way they pass the ball, the way they run in transition, I don’t think I’ve ever played a team that’s better in transition than them. They shoot the ball, they execute, they’re way tougher defensively probably than I was expecting as well.

“There’s no question in my mind that they’re a legit Top 25 team. Without a doubt they could make a run in the NCAA Tournament the way they’re playing.”

Wednesday’s game is the final contest for both teams for more than a week and it’s the last nonconference game for Creighton before it begins Big East play at No. 23 Seton Hall on Dec. 28. League games also loom against No. 9 Xavier and No. 1 Villanova.

The Spartans (4-10) snapped a six-game losing streak with an 83-75 victory over Coastal Georgia on Monday afternoon in their first home game since Nov. 20. USC Upstate is 0-8 on the road, including losses to then-No. 15 Minnesota 92-77 to open the season and to Kansas State 86-49 on Dec. 5.

Junior guard Deion Holmes scored a season-high 25 points Monday, raising his average to 14.1 points. That was the 40th time Holmes has finished a game in double figures and his 13th with 20 or more points.

Junior forward Malik Moore, who also averages 14.1 points, posted his second career double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Senior forward Ramel Thompkins (9.6 points) scored 13 and junior guard Jure Span had 12.

Creighton has won 21 straight nonconference home games.