OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Ryan Kalkbrenner scored 24 points and three nights after a flat performance in its opener, No. 9 Creighton looked like the team it was expected to be in a 96-61 rout of North Dakota on Thursday.
The Fighting Hawks (1-1) were Creighton’s second straight opponent from the Summit League. Unlike Monday, when the Bluejays struggled with their 3-point shooting and didn’t put away St. Thomas until the final 10 minutes, this one was over in the first 10.
Creighton (2-0) missed five of its first six shots and committed three early turnovers, allowing North Dakota to take a brief lead.
Then the Bluejays took off on a 29-3 run.
They contested almost every North Dakota shot, got out in transition with their superior athletes and rode the momentum to a 53-22 halftime lead. The 31-point margin at the break was Creighton’s largest against a Division I opponent since it led South Carolina Upstate by 34, 58-24, on Dec. 20, 2017, according to Sportradar.
Creighton finished 12 of 27 on 3-pointers after going 8 of 34 against St. Thomas. Trey Alexander was 4 for 6 from distance and finished with 14 points.
The 7-foot-1 Kalkbrenner, who played with the flu on Monday, had three straight dunks while making seven of his first eight shots and he finished 10 for 11 in 24 minutes.
Tsotne Tsartsidze led the Hawks with 16 points.
North Dakota: The Hawks got a paycheck for scheduling the game, and coach Paul Sather was able to catch up with Creighton coach Greg McDermott, who hired him as a graduate assistant when he was at Division II Wayne State in the 1990s.
Creighton: This game was a complete turnaround for the Bluejays, who were lax defensively, out of sync offensively and looked uninterested at times against St. Thomas. Once they got into a rhythm, they were nearly unstoppable and looked more like the team they’re expected to be.
North Dakota plays five of its next six games at home, starting with Pacific on Tuesday.
Creighton plays the third of four straight home games against Holy Cross on Monday.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25