Martin Krampelj and Mitch Ballock scored 13 points to lead four Bluejays in double figures as the Creighton men's basketball team opened the 2018-19 season with a 78-67 win over Western Illinois on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
The win moved Creighton to 1-0 on the season, while Western Illinois fell to 0-1.
Creighton trailed much of the first half before a 35-foot shot from Ballock beat the halftime buzzer to give the Bluejays a 43-41 edge at the intermission.
Damien Jefferson had a career-high 12 rebounds for Creighton, the most by a player in their Bluejay debut since at least 1975.
Sophomore guard Kobe Webster had his second career double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes for Western Illinois, while Brandon Gilbeck tied a CHI Health Center Omaha record with seven blocked shots.
Krampelj, just over ninth months removed from his third ACL surgery, started the game with a dunk on the first possession of the game. WIU answered and led by as much as eight points (23-15 and 26-18) in a first half that featured six ties and eight lead changes.
CU built their first double-digit advantage (57-47) on a three-pointer by 7-footer Samson Froling with 14:32 to play, and would eventually push the margin to as large as 68-52 on a lay-up by fellow freshman Marcus Zegarowski with 10:54 to go.
WIU got as close as eight minutes on three occasions in the final six minutes, but got no closer as the Bluejays closed out a double-digit win in the season-opener for the eighth time in nine tries under Greg McDermott.
Creighton returns to action on Sunday, Nov. 11 as the Bluejays host East Tennessee State at 12:30 pm at CHI Health Center Omaha.
NOTES: Before Damien Jefferson, the last player with 10 or more rebounds in a Creighton debut was Nick Porter with 10 rebounds in 2005 ... Jefferson never had more than nine rebounds during his freshman season at New Mexico in 2016-17 ... Tonight was Creighton's first season-opener on a Tuesday since 1991-92, and first at home on a Tuesday since 1986-87 ... Tonight was the earliest season-opener by date (Nov. 6) in program history ... Creighton improved to 86-15 all-time in the season-opener while winning its 21st lid-lifter in the past 22 seasons ... Creighton improved to 90-11 in home openers all-time, including 24 straight wins ... Greg McDermott improved to 17-1 in season-openers as a Division I head coach with 17 straight wins ... Creighton improved to 59-0 all-time in regular-season home games that take place on or before Nov. 26th ... The BIG EAST went 8-0 on the first night of the 2018-19 season.