DePaul Blue Demons vs. Creighton Bluejays – Saturday, February 6th, 1 p.m. Central – CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Nebraska
Television – FOX Sports Networks & The U-Too in Chicago
Radio – WSCR AM 670
After DePaul's shocking upset of Providence Tuesday, the Blue Demons will head into Omaha, Nebraska with a ton of momentum for a Saturday afternoon matchup with the Creighton Bluejays (14-9, 5-5). DePaul (8-14, 2-8) will also be looking to avenge an earlier loss to Creighton, where the Demons lost 91-80 at Allstate Arena on January 17.
The Bluejays will come into Saturday's contest in a grumpy mood after they lost at Villanova, 83-58, on Wednesday. With the loss to Villanova, Creighton has now dropped three games in a row.
That all said, Creighton is aiming to make it back to the NCAA Tournament after a one-year absence. The Bluejays have a respectable KenPom RPI of 50 and still have hopes of keeping that dream alive. So you can expect them to take this game seriously, as they need all the wins they can muster in making a run for the NCAA Tournament.
For DePaul and its chances for a win, it's all about stopping Creighton's backcourt of Maurice Watson and Isiah Zierden.
Watson and Zierden are the Bluejays top-two leading scorers.
Watson leads the Bluejays with 14.2 points and 6.4 assists per game (which ranks second in the Big East). He is great at reading defenses and knowing when to attack or when to pass to the open man. The Boston University transfer has made a smooth transition to Big East play and is one of the finer guards in the league. In the first game against DePaul, he had 17 points and six assists and was the engine that put the Bluejays in position to win.
Then there is Zierden who is second on Creighton in scoring, adding 11.6 points per game, while shooting .389 percent from three-point range. That latter stat is something DePaul should be all too familiar with, as Zierden erupted for 31 points in the last game behind him drilling 8-11 three pointers.
Creighton also gets solid production from center Geoffrey Groselle. He is third on the team in scoring with 10.9 points and leads the team with 5.8 rebounds per game. He also shoots an amazing .700 percent from the field, which is third best in the country.
With DePaul doing a good job of defending Kris Dunn on Tuesday, the Demons should follow the same blueprint and build a wall behind Watson and then try to push Zierden off the three-point line.
Easier said than done, but there is hope that with the win over Providence, DePaul can now believe it can beat anyone in the conference. Also, Billy Garrett Jr, Myke Henry and other members of the team remember they can win at Creighton, as they did so last year (winning 70-60 on January 7, 2015).
The Last Time
On January 17, 2016 at Allstate Arena, the Blue Demons lost to Creighton 91-80.
DePaul failed to capitalize on opportunities and unforced turnovers cost the Blue Demons the game.
DePaul was within three points with 2:34 to play and lost an opportunity when Myke Henry was whistled for an offensive foul which ended up being his fifth foul that resulted in his exit from the game.
The Blue Demons got off to a quick start with an 11-0 run to open the game fueled by three pointers from Henry, Eli Cain, and Tommy Hamilton IV, but Creighton quickly rallied back into the game.
Five players finished in double-figures for Creighton. Isaiah Zierden zeroed in from three point range to scored a career high 31 points and knock down a career high eight shots from beyond the arc.
Maurice Watson, Jr. scored 17 points and dished out six assists. James Milliken contributed with 14 points off the bench. Zach Hanson chipped in with 11 points, while Cole Huff came off the bench to add 10 points.
Henry and freshman Eli Cain led the way for DePaul with 21 points each. Henry shot 10 of 12 from the floor, while Cain was six of eight from the field.
Tommy Hamilton contributed 13 points and eight rebounds, but was hampered by foul trouble in the first half.
Billy Garrett, Jr. added 10 points and four assists in the losing effort.
DePaul managed to outrebound Creighton 35 to 23, but once again it was careless turnovers that cost the Blue Demons the game. DePaul committed 18 turnovers in the contest.
NO. NAME POS. HT. WT. YR. HOMETOWN / HIGH SCHOOL
0 Justin Patton C 6-11 215 Fr. Omaha, Neb. / North
1 Marlon Stewart G 6-1 210 Fr. Eldridge, Iowa / North Scott
2 Khyri Thomas G 6-3 200 Fr. Omaha, Neb. / Benson HS
4 Ronnie Harrell Jr. G 6-7 190 Fr. Denver, Colo. / East
5 Drew Cayce G 6-1 165 Fr. La Porte, Ind. / La Lumiere School
10 Maurice Watson Jr. G 5-10 170 Jr. Philadelphia, Pa. / Boys' Latin
11 Tyler Clement G 6-1 185 So. Shawnee, Kan. / St. Thomas Aquinas
12 Malik Albert G 6-2 170 Jr. Detroit, Mich. / King HS
13 Cole Huff F 6-8 215 Jr. Altadena, Calif. / Campbell Hall
15 Martin Krampelj F 6-9 205 Fr. Grosuplje, Slovenia / Impact Academy [Fla.]
20 Alex O'Neill F 6-8 240 Fr. Peoria, Ill. / Christian
21 Isaiah Zierden G 6-3 185 Jr. Minneapolis, Minn. / Benilde-St. Margaret's
22 Marcus Foster G 6-3 210 Jr. Wichita Falls, Texas / Hirschi HS
23 James Milliken G 6-3 185 Sr. Siler City, N.C. / Jordan Matthews
32 Toby Hegner F 6-10 225 So. Berlin, Wis. / Berlin
40 Zach Hanson F 6-9 250 Jr. Pierre, S.D. / T.F. Riggs
41 Geoffrey Groselle C 7-0 240 Sr. Plano, Texas / West