How to watch
When: 6:30 p.m.
Radio: UConn Sports Network
Preseason poll: 5th
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Head coach: Jim Flanery
It’s been a tale of two months for Creighton. The Bluejays opened the season with three straight losses in November at the hands of Drake, Northern Iowa and South Dakota State before turning things around in December with wins over Butler and Nebraska.
Overall, Creighton has been stout defensively, allowing just under 60 points per game (64/319 in the nation). The Bluejays struggle to put the ball in the hoop, though, scoring 65.4 points per game (178th) in large part due to shooting just 36.5 percent from the field.
Those numbers can be misleading. Creighton didn’t have point guard Tatum Rembao in its first three games, averaging just 53.7 points. In the two games since her return, the Bluejays have averaged 83.0 points in a pair of victories.
Along with Rembao, Creighton is powered by Temi Carda — the only player on the team to play over 25 minutes per game. She leads her squad with 14.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game and is second (to Rembao) with 3.2 assists per game.
UConn and Creighton have only faced off once — during the 2014-15 season following the Huskies’ stunning loss to Stanford. Geno Auriemma’s squad cruised to a 96-60 win to extend the team’s streak of not losing back-to-back games (which dates back to 1993-94). That was also UConn’s first win in the program’s 111-game win streak that lasted until the 2017 Final Four.
By the numbers
54.8 — Though it's a small sample size, UConn enters Thursday’s game shooting 54.8 percent, second-best in the nation.
6 — The total number of shots that Paige Bueckers has missed this season in 25 attempts. Through two games, she’s shooting 76 percent and averaging a team-high 21 points per game.
2,853 — The number of days since UConn’s last Big East game at Gampel Pavilion. The Huskies crushed Seton Hall that day, 90-30.
What to watch for
Can Bueckers continue her hot start? — Through two games, Bueckers has lived up to the billing as the No. 1 recruit in her class. She’s been UConn’s best player overall and is the team’s leading scorer by over 5.5 points per game. But Bueckers can’t sneak up on anyone anymore and Creighton will have 80 minutes of tape on her. Since she’ll be the main focus of defenses moving forward, we’ll see if she can continue playing at the same level even with the heightened attention.
How will McLean respond to benching? — Auriemma sat freshman Mir McLean for the entire second half against Seton Hall after she made a handful of mental mistakes and took a couple of possessions off late in the first half. After the game, he sounded confident that she’d receive the message, saying “When her motor’s on, it’s really on. Tomorrow at practice, her motor will be on. Trust me.” We’ll see if that translates over into the game as well.
Do the juniors continue to step up? — Neither of the true juniors impressed in the season opener. Christyn Williams finished with just 10 points while Olivia Nelson-Ododa scored 12 points in the first half before getting benched in the second. Both players responded against Seton Hall as Williams scored 21 points while Nelson-Ododa recorded a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. They still haven’t played anywhere near their ceiling this season and have plenty of room to continue to improve, though. Thursday is another opportunity for them to take another step forward.