Creighton at St. John’s
When: 8:30 PM ET, Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Jamaica Estates, Queens
JAMAICA ESTATES – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by Sports XChange) – Outside of the two teams most expected to do well in the Big East this season, very little has held to form in college basketball’s most challenging conference according to RPI – a fact not lost on Creighton coach Greg McDermott. The 10th-ranked Bluejays attempt to bounce back from their first loss Wednesday when they travel to Carnesecca Arena in New York to face resurgent St. John’s.
“DePaul. St. John’s. Those were the two teams that you thought maybe in our league that you could take a breath. Well, that’s not the case,” McDermott told the Omaha World-Herald regarding the two lowest-rated Big East teams in the RPI in the Blue Demons, who lost by three at No. 1 Villanova on Dec. 28, and the Red Storm, who are 2-0 in league play for the first time since 2010-11. The Bluejays fell at home 80-70 to the Wildcats on Saturday after running out to an early 10-point lead, putting an end to the school’s best start since 1942-43. “We had wide-open shots. It’s not like those were challenged. … We would take those shots any time with a chance to win the game. They just didn’t go in,” McDermott told reporters. St. John’s is on a three-game winning streak, a run that includes handing Syracuse its most lopsided loss in its 36 years in the Carrier Dome on Dec. 21 and a three-point triumph over No. 18 Butler eight days later for the Red Storm’s first on-campus win over a ranked foe since 1998.
Maurice Watson, Jr. (10)
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
ABOUT CREIGHTON (13-1, 1-1 Big East): The Bluejays still rank second in Division I in 3-point percentage (43) but through two games of conference play, they have shot only a combined 27.5 percent from long-range and been outrebounded both times. Senior point guard Maurice Watson Jr. (12.9 points, 9.1 assists) leads the country in 10-assist games (six) and is only one outing removed from becoming the first Creighton player to amass 20 points and 10 assists in the same game since 1985. Freshman 7-0 center Justin Patton (13.1 points, team-high 6.4 boards) ranks second on the team behind Marcus Foster (19 points per game) in scoring and is averaging 17.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in league action thus far.
ABOUT ST. JOHN’S (8-7, 2-0): Shamorie Ponds (team-high 17.7 points), a three-time Big East Freshman of the Week award winner, leads the conference in 3-pointers (45) and ranks second in steals per game (two), generating at least four thefts in three of his last four outings. Fellow freshman guard Marcus LoVett (16.6 points, team-best 4.1 assists, 82.6 percent from the foul line) enjoyed his first 20-point game in over a month with 22 in Sunday’s 79-73 win over DePaul and ranks eighth in the Big East in free-throw percentage. Junior guard Bashir Ahmed (13 points per game, 5.7 rebounds) has also been critical to the Red Storm’s success during their winning streak, topping his season scoring average each time while going 8-of-15 beyond the arc.
1. Creighton swept last season’s series, including a 100-59 rout in Omaha that served as the Red Storm’s most lopsided loss since a 97-52 defeat at Duke on Feb. 24, 2002.
2. The last time St. John’s won its first three Big East games was 2010-11 en route to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2000.
3. The Bluejays are one of 11 teams to use the same starting lineup in every game this season.