Truman St.-Creighton Preview (Jan 14, 2017)

BY AP • January 13, 2017

OMAHA, Neb. -- Creighton is playing a game Saturday because the Bluejays were told they had to.

The Bluejays were required by Big East Conference officials to schedule a game Saturday so that all 10 teams in the league had less than a 48-hour turnaround before Monday's Big East Marathon for Martin Luther King Day.

That's how Division II Truman State from Kirksville, Mo., landed on Creighton's schedule for a 12 p.m. CST tipoff at CenturyLink Center.

Eight Big East schools were already scheduled to play conference games while Georgetown had a scheduled non-conference matchup against Connecticut.

Only No. 8 Creighton would have had an open date before its marathon game Monday at Xavier.

Because this mandate came down after non-conference scheduling essentially was finished -- and all of the other major conferences were in the midst of playing their league slates -- Bluejays coach Greg McDermott said it wasn't an easy task to find a taker.

Playing a Division I team with a poor record could hurt Creighton's RPI as the 16-1 Jays are positioning themselves for a high seed in the NCAA tournament that begins in mid-March.

Since Truman State is a Division II school, the game will count on the Bluejays' win-loss record but not as a game that will affect their RPI. For the 12-4 Bulldogs, this game goes into the books as an exhibition game.

Truman State coach Chris Foster played for McDermott at Northern Iowa from 2001-05. So coach called pupil to ask him for a solid, and Foster was happy to oblige.

McDermott said Creighton won't show up expecting a walk-over win. After Wednesday's 75-64 win over No. 12 Butler, McDermott said only half-jokingly that the Bluejays need to learn how to play better with a 20-point lead, the cushion they enjoyed at halftime against Butler.

"They have eight guys who shoot 40 percent or better from 3-point line," McDermott said. "He has done a heck of a job there. It will be a neat experience for his kids."

By the time the game ends around 2 p.m. CST, Truman State will have played three games in approximately 43 hours. The Bulldogs had home games Thursday and Friday before getting on a bus early Friday evening to head to Omaha.

Truman State lost to Division II No. 10-ranked Southern Indiana 111-89 Thursday before defeating No. 9 Bellarmine 77-72 Friday in a game that tipped off at 3 p.m.

McDermott said he thought Foster had to pay Bellarmine a few bucks to move the game from Saturday to Friday.

"I offered Chris a pretty good deal," McDermott said. "If I'm not mistaken, I think he had to pay the team he was supposed to play Saturday at home to move it to Friday. So I taught him well with his negotiation skills."


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