GAME NOTES: After slipping from their perch atop the Big East Conference, the 13th-ranked Creighton Bluejays will try to bounce back on the road against the Georgetown Hoyas at the Verizon Center on Tuesday night.
Creighton may have handed conference-leading Villanova both of its league losses by convincing margins, but the Bluejays are now sitting a game back of the Wildcats in the league standings (13-3) following a 75-69 loss to Xavier. The setback ended a four-game win streak for Creighton, which is 23-5 overall and set to finish the regular season at home against Providence later this week.
As for Georgetown, the goals for the rest of the regular season are less lofty. The Hoyas are a mediocre 16-12 overall, which includes a 7-9 league ledger. They dropped a 75-73 decision to Marquette last time out for their third loss in the last four games. They play their regular-season finale against Villanova on Saturday.
When these teams met in Omaha earlier this season, Creighton rolled over Georgetown, 76-63. The win was the second in as many meetings between the new conference foes for the Bluejays.
Doug McDermott did his part, tallying 27 points and 10 rebounds, but he didn't get much help in Creighton's recent loss to Xavier. The Bluejays only shot 39 percent from the field, with Ethan Wragge and Grant Gibbs scoring nine points apiece.
Normally Creighton is impossible to stop at the offensive end. They are among the top-20 teams in the country in a number of offensive categories, including scoring (80.2 pg), assists (18 apg) and field goal percentage (.495). Doing most of the heavy lifting of course is McDermott (26 ppg, 7 rpg), who can score from anywhere on the court, and has done so en route to the national lead in scoring. The sure-fire All-American is joined by a number of strong shooters, who may not put up gaudy numbers, but are solid complementary pieces. Wragge (11.2 ppg), Gibbs (7.1 ppg, 4.1 apg) and Austin Chatman (7.3 ppg, 4.3 apg) are the most productive of the supporting cast.
A 10-1 run from Marquette to open the second half put it in the driver's seat against Georgetown over the weekend. The Hoyas, who led 40-37 at halftime, were credited with only seven field goals on 26.9 percent shooting over the final 20 minutes. Markel Starks poured in 24 points and went a perfect 10- of-10 at the free-throw line to pace the losing side.
Georgetown is not the same offensive-minded squad that Creighton is, as the Hoyas are putting up a modest 71 ppg while shooting a respectable 45.8 percent from the floor. They are a bit more forceful on defense, yielding only 67.5 ppg on 40.9 percent shooting. Starks (17 ppg, 3.9 apg) and D'Vauntes Smith- Rivera (16.9 ppg) are by far the most important players on the floor for the Hoyas, as the only ones putting in more than nine ppg. Smith-Rivera tacked on 19 points against Marquette. Jabril Trawick (8.6 ppg) adds to the strength in the backcourt as the next-best scorer. He had 16 points against Marquette.
Even with the strong play they get out on the wings, the Hoyas' lack of a frontcourt presence has been a troubling and uncharacteristic weakness, and one the Bluejays will certainly exploit with McDermott's ability to dominate against lesser defenders.
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