Connecticut Huskies vs. Creighton Bluejays Pick & Prediction JANUARY 17th 2024

No. 1 UConn will strive to continue its winning Big East Conference run with a sixth straight victory in a Wednesday night matchup against No. 18 Creighton in Storrs, Conn.

The Huskies (15-2, 5-1) have gone unbeaten since their conference-opening loss on Dec. 20 at Seton Hall – including an 80-67 win Sunday over Georgetown – and now look to take down a Creighton team that they have beaten just once in seven all-time meetings.

UConn coach Dan Hurley knew that his team would have to find scoring from other sources against the Ed Cooley-led Hoyas, and the duo of Alex Karaban and Cam Spencer combined for 46 points.

Karaban tied his career-high with 26 points on 6-of-8 3-point shooting, while Spencer made another five triples as part of his 20-point performance. They are the first UConn teammates to score 20 in the same game this season.

“Nothing in this league is easy, especially when it’s a team coached by Ed Cooley. He’s one of the best you’ll go against,” Hurley said. “We needed that type of performance from (Karaban and Spencer) to get out of here, I guess, with a semi-comfortable win.”

Monday, the Huskies rose three spots to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2009. The 2008-09 season was also the last in which UConn started 5-1 in the Big East.

Star sophomore Donovan Clingan is nearing his return from a foot injury after taking warmups with his Huskies teammates Sunday. He has missed the past five games.

While Clingan is close to at least being a game-time decision, Hurley noted that they will not rush the big man back to the court.

“He looks good,” Hurley said. “I think going into this week now you’re on the ‘Cling Kong’ watch.”

Creighton (13-4, 4-2) overcame a nine-point deficit midway through the second half and beat St. John’s 66-65 for its fourth straight victory on Saturday.

The Bluejays took great care of the basketball in that highly contested game, committing only seven turnovers against the pressure of St. John’s. The game featured 18 lead changes and seven ties.

“We’ve often been accused of not being able to win a mud fight,” coach Greg McDermott said. “(On Saturday), we did.”

Ryan Kalkbrenner posted 18 points while adding nine rebounds — he moved into the top 10 in Creighton history in that category — and four blocked shots to pace the Bluejays against St. John’s, which had won four straight.

Baylor Scheierman logged 17 points and 12 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season.

Creighton opened conference play with consecutive losses to Villanova and then-No. 10 Marquette by a combined seven points before its current run, which includes victories at Georgetown and DePaul.

The Big East is among the top conferences in the country, and the St. John’s game began a stretch of three straight contests against teams that were off to a 4-1 start as of Saturday.

“You have to figure out ways to win,” McDermott said. “We’re gonna have a lot of these. You have to be prepared. You have to execute. And you need a little bit of good fortune as well.”

McDermott said he hopes that his Bluejays can continue that trend against the reigning national champions.

UConn’s lone win in the all-time series was a 69-60 decision Jan. 7 of last season in Storrs. Creighton won 56-53 in its home game Feb. 11.

–Field Level Media

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