This is a fantastic opportunity for a win against a top-25 team in familiar surroundings. Creighton lacks height, still has streaky shooters, does not generate many turnovers, can be susceptible to ball movement, and rebounds pretty poorly. Last week, Villanova succeeded in slowing Creighton’s three-point barrage by hedging hard on screens and utilizing length (and physicality) on the wing. The Hoyas’ can use their strengths to take advantage of some of these CU weaknesses.
On the other hand, both Xavier and Marquette underestimated how good the Bluejay defense can be at forcing opponents to take bad shots. Creighton’s opponents’ field goal percentage can disappear for long stretches. Creighton likes a fast pace, but takes care of the ball well and sacrifices rebounding in order to get back and limit transition points. Coach McDermott’s squad is certainly physical but works hard to minimize giving opponents free-throw attempts.
Georgetown is likely destined to have cold streaks shooting against Creighton on Wednesday night, and if the Hoyas can’t find some points from turnovers and the charity stripe, consistent ball movement and a low-post attack become that much more vital.
Here are the links:
Creighton has rebounded from back-to-back top-25 losses with Saturday’s 77-65 win at Xavier to improve to 13-4 overall (2-2 BIG EAST). Highlighting the Bluejay resume is wins over No. 12 Texas Tech (83-76 in OT on Nov. 29), Nebraska (95-76 on Dec. 7), Oklahoma (83-73 on Dec. 17), Arizona State (67-60 on Dec. 21), Marquette (92-75 on Jan. 1) and at Xavier (77-65 on Jan. 11).
CU returns five of its top six scorers from a year ago, a group led by guards Marcus Zegarowski (17.1 ppg., 4.8 apg.), Ty-Shon Alexander (16.0 ppg., 6.1 rpg.) and Mitch Ballock (12.6 ppg., 5.5 rpg.). The trio have accounted for 129 three-pointers and 59.3 percent of CU’s overall points thus far. Three other forwards to keep an eye on are Christian Bishop (9.0 ppg., 5.9 rpg.), Damien Jefferson (8.4 ppg., 5.3 rpg.) and Denzel Mahoney (10.6 ppg.).
The Creighton men’s basketball team is ranked 25th in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll, joining the poll for the first time since the week of January 8, 2018.
The Bluejays are one of four BIG EAST teams that are nationally ranked by the AP this week, joining No. 5 Butler, No. 14 Villanova and No. 18 Seton Hall.
Creighton is also 27th in the NCAA’s official NET rating today and the top team among those “also receiving votes” in the USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll.
Creighton returns to the court on Wednesday with a 6:05 p.m. Central game at Georgetown. The game will air on 1620 AM, as well as CBS Sports Network.
Big East now has four ranked teams: Butler (5), Villanova (14), Seton Hall (18) and Creighton (25). No other teams received votes. #bigeasthoops— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) January 13, 2020
THRIVING WITH THREES: Georgetown is 6-0 when it makes eight or more 3-pointers and 5-6 when it falls shy of that mark. Creighton is 12-0 when it hits at least nine from long range and 1-4 on the year, otherwise. UNDEFEATED WHEN: The Hoyas are 6-0 when they make eight or more 3-pointers and 5-6 when they fall shy of that mark. The Bluejays are 12-0 when they make nine or more 3-pointers and 1-4 when the team hits fewer than nine from long range.
Big East Kenpoms:— Jerry Carino (@NJHoopsHaven) January 13, 2020
Offense is the side of the ball where the Jays excel ... they care for the ball extremely well and knock down shots. The Bluejays don’t shoot as well as some of the teams Greg McDermott has had, but 36% from deep as a team and a 53.6% EFG speak to a team that still knocks down its share of shots. The Jays still eschew the offensive glass in favor of getting back on defense and hunting shots on the perimeter.
Defensively, Creighton struggles. This is in large part due to their inability to keep opponents off the offensive glass (26.4% OR) or turn them over (17.6%). The Jays do limit good three point looks, but can get gashed inside. They don’t block shots well and they are susceptible to quick ball movement...
The Jays had lost their previous two games, falling to No. 6 Butler last weekend before dropping a close contest at home to No. 16 Villanova on Tuesday. In those defeats, Creighton made seven of its 36 3-point tries (19.4%).
And the long-range shots weren’t always going in for Creighton on Saturday, either. It started the game 5 for 23 from the floor — making just one of its first nine 3-pointers.
But Xavier struggled to score, too. It wasn’t able to use its size advantage early, settling for jump shots instead. The game was tied 15-15 after the first 15 minutes of play as a result.
The Musketeers attempted just six free throws, and more importantly, Christian Bishop and Kelvin Jones stayed out of foul trouble so they could remain on the floor to battle X’s bigs.
And while Creighton couldn’t get the pace as fast as they’d prefer, they were able to score in transition and hit enough threes to win.
It’s the Jays’ defense that deserves praise after this one, though. WBR’s Matt DeMarinis pointed out on Twitter afterward that since getting blown out by San Diego State on November 28th, Creighton ranks 3rd in the Big East in FG percentage defense (39.7%) and 2nd in 3FG percentage defense (25.6%).
Jays Beat Xavier For McDermott's 500th Win— Creighton Men’s Basketball (@BluejayMBB) January 12, 2020
Mitch: https://t.co/UAHB01tJkq pic.twitter.com/358dh8mLBa
The Bluejays couldn’t ever effectively pull away with a timely three-point barrage because of Villanova’s length and versatility on the perimeter, which limited CU to just five attempts from beyond the arc in the first half before holding them to 1-of-9 from deep in the second stanza. At times Creighton rushed some threes, and at other times they were too hesitant to put them up, but rarely was Villanova not there doing there part to break rhythm, especially on Creighton’s best long-range shooters.
“They executed their game plan,” Creighton junior guard Mitch Ballock said. “They played on top of us and took away our strengths. It was tough to get open looks. Every time we’d come off a screen a guy was hedging hard and a guy was trailing hard.
“When you can switch everything you can take away open shots. When you can switch five ways it’s really difficult to get good looks because you can stay on top of guys and make everything go to the rim. That’s what they did.”
As a result of not having anything resembling size on the roster, Creighton’s going through it a bit on the defensive end. They currently rank #101 in the country in KenPom.com’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, and that’s their lowest ranking since Creighton’s second year in the Big East, which was the only time under Greg McDermott where they didn’t win at least 20 games and the first time that they had finished a year under .500 since 1995-96. They don’t defend two-pointers very well, although they’re much better than they were last year, and they don’t force turnovers much at all. Much like the free throws on the offensive end, that’s fantastic news...
...Marquette had a 63.0% effective field goal percentage in transition entering Wednesday’s game, but when forced to run offense out of a half court set, it dropped all the way to 49.0%. In counting stats, they had an average of 22.6 fastbreak points in their previous five games. Wednesday night? ZERO in the first half, and just five for the game. Stunning. Time after time, Creighton stopped Marquette’s initial action and forced them to attack in the half court, against a set defense. And when they did, possessions like this happened time after time — watch this 25 seconds of outstanding team defense where Marquette couldn’t get a single decent look at the basket, and try not to salivate.