When Creighton opens its NCAA tournament run on Friday afternoon against Louisiana, the Bluejays will face an opponent looking to do something different than many previous opponents.
Bob Marlin and his Ragin Cajuns hope to play at a faster tempo than the Jays. The 13 seed will enter the tournament scoring 81.4 pointer per game, which is nearly two more than CU and ranks 13th in the country.
"Louisiana plays probably as fast as us, or maybe ever fast than we do," said Creighton coach Greg McDermott. "So transition defense is really going to be important and our ability to attack when we have the ball in transition."
Point guard Elfrid Payton is largely the reason for the gaudy numbers. The junior is averaging 19.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6 assists per game and reminds the Bluejays of some other taller point guards.
"Obviously Payton is really, really talented," said Grant Gibbs. "He kind of… compare him a little bit to Semaj Christon, from Xavier. He kind of has a (Rajon) Rondo type game."
Payton has eclipsed the 30-point mark four different times this season, and sophomore Shawn Long has done so twice. Long, a forward, averages just less than 19 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks per game.
While the Ragin Cajuns sizzle on offense, they tend to get seared on defense. Marlin's squad will be living dangerously if they allow CU to find rhythm shots on the break. Louisiana has allowed 75.1 points per game, ranking 301st in the nation.
The Bluejays also own the advantage in NCAA experience, after winning tournament games in each of the last two seasons. Louisiana, on the other hand, makes its first tournament appearance since 2005 and seeks the program's first tournament win since 1992.
The underdogs earned their berth after streaking through the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. The Ragin Cajuns played only two other members of the field of 68, losing to Louisville and Baylor by large margins.
Although the Bluejays enter the tournament as a three seed, the best in school history, the BIG EAST runners up are approaching the final run with a simple mindset.
"It's still the NCAA tournament," Doug McDermott answered after he was asked if the better seed changed anything. "So everyone is going to be playing their best basketball; we certainly hope to be doing so."
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