Jan 12, 2014, 6:03 PM EST
No Grant Gibbs?
Playing their first game without the sixth-year senior guard thanks to a dislocated kneecap he suffered in a win over DePaul didn’t slow Creighton down at all.
The Bluejays got a combined 37 points and 14 assists from Devin Brooks, Austin Chatman and Jahenns Manigat as they overcame a 12-0 start by Xavier to beat the Musketeers, 95-89, on Sunday afternoon.
Chris Mack’s club entered the game as one of the hottest teams in the country, winning eight straight games and starting out Big East play 3-0. But the Muskies ran into a Creighton buzzsaw, as the Bluejays sharpshooting — they went 14-for-28 from the floor — was too much to handle. Creighton routinely packs more than 17,000 people into the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, and when the Bluejays get rolling, that place gets loud. It’s not an easy place to get a win even when you hit four thees in the first two minutes of the game.
Xavier’s going to be fine, especially now that Semaj Christon is back to playing like an all-american.
What was more impressive here was Creighton. Doug McDermott is an awesome scorer. We all know that, and the 35 points, seven boards and three assists that he posted on Sunday will do nothing to dissuade that notion. But what makes Creighton so hard to defend is when they also run Ethan Wragge out there. Wragge is a big, 6-foot-8 forward that has enough strength to throw his weight around in the post. But he also happens to be one of the best three-point shooters in the country. He made five of them on Sunday, including three straight 25-footers early in the second half that blew the game open.
When he’s on the floor at the same time as McDermott, it spreads out the defense and creates driving lanes. But it also basically ensures that one of the two will get an open look from beyond the arc on every single possession. Big men aren’t accustomed to playing defense 30 feet away from the basket. They aren’t used to being unable to leave their man, even for a split second. Most guards are used to the idea of having to get a hand in a shooter’s face that far away from the rim. They deal with it every day.
Big men aren’t used to it, and that’s how you have to guard Wragge and McDermott on the perimeter.
It’s also why I’m looking forward to Creighton’s visit to Villanova next Monday. The Wildcats actually have big men that can guard on the perimeter and hold their on in the post against McDermott. Will having the best player in the conference be enough to allow Creighton to beat the best team in the league and the only team in the league that they won’t have a matchup advantage?
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