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Creighton rolls over Mississippi Valley State in opener

Nov 14, 2006 - 3:28 AM OMAHA, Nebraska (Ticker) -- Anthony Tolliver and Nick Porter are picking up where they left off in the preseason.

Tolliver and Porter scored 14 points as No. 23 Creighton coasted to a 72-48 victory over Mississippi Valley State in their season opener.

Creighton shot just 39 percent (26-of-66) and made only 2-of-13 from the arc, but it amassed 21 offensive rebounds and held a 46-18 edge in points in the paint.

"I think it's great that we played hard. I'm pleased with that," Creighton coach Dana Altman said. "But, we've got a lot of deficiencies that we've got to address. Playing hard should be a given. Now we've got to go to work on all the areas of the game."

On the defensive end, the Blue Jays held the Devils to 31 percent (16-of-52) and forced 23 turnovers.

"I thought we gave a better effort tonight (than in the exhibitions)," Altman said. "We played so much harder on the defensive end that it took us out of our rhythm offensively. It's a good starting point for us. The effort was good. We got a lot of people on the floor while we try to develop some depth here. We did a lot of good things."

Preseason All-American Nate Funk, who missed all but six games last season because of a shoulder injury, had 11 points and made half of his four 3-pointers for the Blue Jays (1-0), who return four starters from a 20-10 squad that advanced to the postseason for the ninth straight time last season.

"That wasn't bad. We've still got a few things we've got to work on," Funk said. "We're going to forget about that game. As far as I'm concerned, that one is done and we're looking forward now. We got some things accomplished that we wanted to, but we know we have a long ways to go. We'll see where we're at come Saturday."

A 6-9 senior center, Tolliver was named captain of the Missouri Valley Conference's Most Improved Team last season after averaging 13.2 points and 6.7 rebounds. In Creighton's two exhibition games, he led the club with 39 points and 16 rebounds.

Porter, a 6-3 junior, was the MVC Newcomer of Year in 2005-06 after averaging 9.6 rebounds and 4.9 boards.

"I thought our effort was there," Porter said. "I thought we played harder than we did in any of our exhibition games. We've got a long way to go, though. I'm not satisfied with winning tonight. We've got to stay humble and keep hungry."

After Ronald Alexander gave Mississippi Valley State (0-2) a 2-0 lead by making a layup on the first shot of the game, Creighton took command. It scored the next 10 points - four on two layups by Porter - to take immediate charge.

The Blue Jays took a 30-16 lead at the half and increased the bulge to 50-23 just seven minutes into the second half. The surge was sparked by five free throws by Dane Watts, a pair of jumpers by Tolliver and three points each from Porter and Brice Nengsu.

"To be in this environment and being pressed the way they were getting after it - it's certainly going to have an effect on you," Devils coach James Green said. "Basically what you saw right there was a team in a panic mode all night long."

Demarkus Barnes led the Devils with 10 points. No other starter had more than one basket.

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