Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
NEW YORK – (Special Preview for Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – Xavier and Creighton have persevered despite less-than-ideal circumstances over the last two months. One of the teams will advance to the final of the Big East tournament when the rivals clash Friday in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
Xavier Coach Chris Mack
Xavier, seeded No. 7 in this event, lost point guard Edmond Sumner to a torn ACL in late January and shortly thereafter began a six-game losing streak. The team has rallied to win three straight, capped by a critical 62-57 upset against No. 2 seed Butler in Thursday’s quarterfinals. Creighton, meanwhile, lost point guard Maurice Watson Jr. to a torn ACL in mid-January — ironically against Xavier — and has won back-to-back games only once since. Of course, the sixth-seeded Bluejays can accomplish that feat Friday, one day after dismissing third-seeded Providence 70-58.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
ABOUT XAVIER (21-12): The Musketeers had posted their last three wins against DePaul — two in the regular season and one in the first round of this event — before nipping Butler behind Trevon Bluiett’s go-ahead jumper with 16 seconds left. The win could prove critical for a Xavier team that is expected to be right on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament but could probably lock up a spot in the Field of 68 with another victory Friday. “I think we have competitive guys. They understand what’s at stake,” said Xavier coach Chris Mack, whose team overcame 17 turnovers, 5-of-15 3-point shooting and a quiet night from J.P. Macura (eight points).
ABOUT CREIGHTON (24-8): The Bluejays received 19 points from Khyri Thomas and 15 from Marcus Foster in Thursday’s win against Providence in which the team won despite 4-of-20 3-point shooting and uncharacteristic 20-of-33 shooting from the foul line. Thomas has registered double-digit points in 10 of his last 11 games and Foster enters this one with a 15-game streak of scoring in double figures. Justin Patton, who chipped in nine points and eight rebounds Thursday, is one of the nation’s most efficient shooters but has struggled from the foul line — including 1-of-6 versus Providence — throughout the season.
1. The winner will return to the court Saturday to face either top seed Villanova or No. 5 seed Seton Hall.
2. A 2-of-5 showing against Xavier on Feb. 4 is the only game all season in which Patton has shot below 50 percent from the field.
3. Foster averaged 16 points in two meetings with Xavier as each team won on the other’s home court.