Creighton at DePaul
When: 2:00 PM ET, Saturday, February 11, 2017
Where: Allstate Arena, Rosemont
CHICAGO – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – Creighton discovered there was life after losing point guard Maurice Watson Jr. in the middle of last month following a late-January victory over DePaul. Coming off their third defeat in five full games without Watson, the 23rd-ranked Bluejays hope to rebound from another setback on Saturday when they visit the Blue Demons.
Despite losing Watson for the season to a torn left ACL in the first half against Xavier on Jan. 16, Creighton managed to hold on for a win in that game to move to 18-1 before dropping its first two games to Marquette and Georgetown without him. The Bluejays bounced back with a 17-point home win against last-place DePaul on Jan. 28 and a surprising victory at No. 21 Butler three days later, but they probably missed him the most last Saturday as the Musketeers used a late rally to escape Omaha with an 82-80 triumph. “It’s a disappointing loss. We held the lead a good portion of the game and then couldn’t finish,” coach Greg McDermott told reporters after Creighton went 11-for-21 from the free-throw line against Xavier. DePaul continued to fall deeper and deeper into the Big East cellar with its seventh straight setback – a 72-61 road decision against the Musketeers on Wednesday.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
ABOUT CREIGHTON (20-4, 7-4 Big East): The Bluejays, who lead the conference in scoring offense (84.7 points; 16th in Division I) and field-goal percentage (52.1; second) and rank second in 3-point percentage (40.2; 13th), sit second-to-last in the league in free-throw percentage (67.9; 235th). Marcus Foster (team-high 18 points per game) scored 30 points on 13-for-24 shooting in his first game without Watson, but the junior guard is averaging 14.8 points on 24-for-61 from the field in the four games since – a stretch that includes 5-for-23 shooting beyond the arc. Freshman center Justin Patton (13.7 points, team-high 6.3 rebounds, team-high 1.8 blocks) was limited to a career-low seven points last weekend but recorded a personal-best five blocks – twice rejecting two shots on the same Xavier possession.
ABOUT DEPAUL (8-16, 1-10): Freshman guard Brandon Cyrus (six points per game, 4.3 rebounds) has started to emerge over the last four games with averages of 11 points and 5.8 boards – making all 10 of his free throws over that stretch – and has been particularly efficient over his last two outings, going 12-for-21 from the field. Not including a career-high 32-point performance against Butler on Jan. 21 in which he went 11-for-18 from the field, leading scorer Eli Cain (16.5 points) is averaging only 12.6 points on 27.7 percent shooting in conference action. Billy Garrett Jr. (15.5), who became only the second Blue Demon to reach 1,500 points and 400 assists in his career last weekend, leads the Big East in free-throw percentage (91) for the season.
1. Creighton has won eight of the nine meetings since joining the Big East four years ago, and all nine contests have been decided by double figures.
2. DePaul leads the Big East with 7.8 steals but ranks last in the league in field-goal percentage defense (50.1) and 3-point percentage defense (41.8) during conference play
3. Patton, who ranks fourth in Division I in field-goal percentage (70.4), went 2-for-5 from the field last Saturday, marking the first time he failed to shoot below 55.6 percent in a game.