GAME NOTES: After a somewhat surprising loss to Providence, the Creighton Bluejays are on a two-game Big East Conference win streak, and will try to improve upon that as they host the St. John's Red Storm at CenturyLink Center on Tuesday night.
St. John's had lost five in a row before the Red Storm started to turn things around in the form of a three-game win streak. St. John's is coming off a 69-52 victory over Butler, and is now 2-5 in the Big East with two straight conference wins (one of the three consecutive wins for the Red Storm was over Dartmouth).
Creighton had won 10 games in a row before the loss to Providence on the road set the team back. But the Bluejays bounced back nicely with an upset win over ranked Villanova in Philadelphia, and just recently downed Georgetown, 76-63. The game against St. John's will be the second of a three-game homestand for the Bluejays.
St. John's leads the all-time series with Creighton, 5-2. This is the first time the two programs will meet as conference rivals. For Creighton, only one game against DePaul will separate the two scheduled meetings between the Bluejays and Red Storm, as they clash again on Feb. 9.
The Red Storm played well defensively in the second half of their victory over Butler, holding the Bulldogs to just 18 second-half points in the contest. JaKarr Sampson led the way for St. John's with 20 points, adding seven rebounds to his impressive stat line. Rysheed Jordan chipped in 16 points and D'Angelo Harrison added 12 in the win. The Red Storm connected on 52.6 percent of their shots from the field in the game.
Harrison and Sampson are the two top scorers for St. John's this season. Harrison paces the squad with 17.8 ppg on 39.1 percent shooting from the floor, including a 34.6 percent mark from 3-point distance. Sampson is second on the roster and the second of just two players to average double-digit point totals for the Red Storm, notching 12.6 ppg and a team-high 6.4 rpg. Jordan tops the team with 50 assists on the year.
Creighton gained a 10-point halftime lead against Georgetown and never looked back, as the Bluejays cruised to victory for the Big East-leading seventh conference win. Doug McDermott scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the double-double, and Will Artino scored 14 points of his own as the two players paced the Bluejays. Ethan Wragge scored 12 points, Devin Brooks chipped in 11 and Jahenns Manigat netted 10 points to round out the double- digit scorers for Creighton.
McDermott continues to garner the accolades this season for Creighton as a Wooden Award candidate. McDermott is averaging 24.3 ppg this season as one of the top scorers in the nation, along with a team-best 7.2 rpg. Wragge has been a player to watch recently, as the forward is now averaging 12.5 ppg for the Bluejays. Manigat tops the team in assists with 64 total on the year and a team-high 26 steals. The Bluejays as a team are averaging 82.2 ppg this season through their 20 contests played.
Creighton's unblemished home winning streak could potentially be in jeopardy if the Red Storm come out firing like they did against Butler. Ultimately though, Creighton's strong offensive attack should prevail.
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