- Associated Press - Saturday, November 26, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - If Justin Patton’s growth continues like it has been, he’s going to be a big problem for the Big East once conference play begins.

The 7-foot, 230-pound redshirt freshman made all eight of his shots and scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, leading No. 12 Creighton in an 82-52 victory over Loyola (Md.) on Saturday.

“I don’t know that you ever expect a freshman to have the impact that he’s having,” Bluejays coach Greg McDermott said. “It’s hard for freshmen in college basketball. He jokes about the redshirt year, and it ended up being a great thing for him.”

Patton grew an inch and gained 25 pounds while sitting out last season. He’s scored 10 or more points in each of Creighton’s six games, showing off a nifty spin move, jump hook shot and monster dunk.

“He certainly is not there yet 100 percent,” McDermott said. “He’s made tremendous strides, and his growth is really happening day by day right in front of our eyes. The guys trust him, especially offensively when he dives at the rim. You throw it up there and he goes to get it.”

The Bluejays (6-0) couldn’t shake the Greyhounds (2-4) in the first half, shooting 36.7 percent while getting out to a 30-25 lead. They opened the second half with a 36-15 run to create a 66-40 bulge, and they shot 74 percent after half.

Creighton’s superior size and athleticism became apparent as the Greyhounds wore down. Patton dunked three times and Marcus Foster, who had 16 points, dunked once during the decisive run.

Patton picked up two quick fouls and was limited to 8 minutes in the first half. He didn’t stew on the bench. He said he was happy to play cheerleader.

“I already have got a chip on my shoulder,” Patton said. “I sat out a whole year. I’m used to it.”

Loyola had no answer for Patton, with anyone who tried to guard him giving up at least 4 inches. Greyhounds coach G.G. Smith said he considered double-teaming Patton but didn’t do it in the first half because Loyola was keeping the game close. In the second half, Patton surprised Smith with shot-making ability.

“We did a very poor job of making him score over us. We gave him way too many looks at the basket,” Smith said. “He has pretty nice post moves. He’s a freshman, right? He’s pretty good for a freshman. He has a bright future. He’s a tough matchup for us.”

Jarred Jones led Loyola with 13 points and Andre Walker added 12 points and five assists.

Creighton scored 28 points off the Greyhounds’ 18 turnovers and outscored them 50-26 in the paint.

“Tale of two halves,” Smith said. “Our guys competed in the first half, and we were down five against one of the nation’s most efficient offensive teams. They’re so hard to stop for two halves.”

BIG PICTURE

Loyola (Md.): The Greyhounds didn’t seem intimidated playing in an arena eight times the size of their 2,100-seat gym. They didn’t have the manpower to keep up with up-tempo Creighton for 40 minutes.

Creighton: It took a while for the Bluejays to get going, but once they did in the second half they looked every bit as good as they did in winning the Paradise Jam.

MEAN MARTIN

Martin Krampelj (pronounced Mar-TEEN CROM-pul) gave the Bluejays what they needed off the bench with center Zach Hanson being out three months with an ankle injury. The 6-9 redshirt freshman from Slovenia was 5 for 7 for 10 points in 16 minutes. He had four points, four rebounds, a block and an assist in 7 minutes off the bench in the first half.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Creighton took care of business, remains unbeaten and should stay right where it is in the Top 25 , if not move up a spot or two on the strength of its Paradise Jam championship.

UP NEXT

Loyola (Md.) heads to Long Island to face Stony Brook on Wednesday.

Creighton hosts Buffalo, which will be three days removed from playing in the Great Alaska Shootout, on Tuesday.

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More AP college basketball: https://collegebasketball.ap.org


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