Ryan Kalkbrenner and Ryan Nembhard get a chance to show their one of the country's best duos when No. 10 Creighton hosts UC Riverside on Thursday in Omaha, Neb.
The 7-foot-1 Kalkbrenner was a perfect 10-for-10 from the field, including making his only 3-point attempt and free throw, and scored a game-high 22 points in a 94-65 win over visiting Holy Cross on Monday.
Nembhard added five points and 12 assists, becoming the first Bluejay to collect a dozen assists and no turnovers in a game since Tyler McKinney did it in a win over Nebraska in 2002.
"We have a great relationship," Nembhard said of Kalkbrenner. "All summer we kind of built it. He knows where I'm going to be, I know where he's going to be. We know where we like screens. We know where he likes the ball. I'm so lucky to be playing with a big like him."
Kalkbrenner scored 17 of his 22 points in the first half, when Nembhard threw four lobs to him that he hammered home.
"He scores five points and he controls the game," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said of Nembhard, who has the same number of points (23) as assists this season. "He's playing with pace, but he's got the ability to play fast but slow himself down and make the right reads."
In three games, Kalkbrenner is averaging 18.0 points per game on 80 percent shooting from the field, in addition to grabbing 6.3 rebounds per game.
"My teammates have done a good job of putting me in a good position, so I take good shots," Kalkbrenner said. "I don't think any of the shots I've taken have been too hard, and that's a credit to the guys I play with. They're good at creating opportunities for other people, and I get the benefit from that."
Arthur Kaluma and Ben Shtolzberg scored 13 points apiece for Creighton (3-0), while Baylor Scheierman had six points and nine rebounds and Mason Miller added eight points and eight rebounds against the Crusaders.
Creighton's 28 assists against the Crusaders were the most by the Bluejays since recording the same number in a victory over Nebraska in 2020.
The UC Riverside Highlanders (1-1) are coming off a dramatic 81-79 win over host Loyola Marymount on Thursday in Los Angeles.
Zyon Pullin hit the game-winning, step-back jumper with 1.6 seconds left to cap a rally from a 20-point deficit in the second half.
Pullin finished with 23 points and six assists, while Flynn Cameron and Kyle Owens added 11 points apiece and Lachlan Olbrich chipped in 10 points.
Through two games, Pullin is averaging a team-high 20.0 points per game, to go along with 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, with Cameron adding 11.0 points and a team-high 7.0 rebounds per game. Owens averages 10.5 points and 3.5 assists per game.
"We are looking to make the jump from good to great," Highlanders coach Mike Magpayo said. "We have the experience and size to do it, now we have to go to work and build this thing brick by brick."
--Field Level Media