DePaul Blue Demons (8-12, 1-6) vs. No. 16 Creighton Bluejays (18-3, 5-3) – Saturday, January 28th, 1:30 p.m. Central – CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Nebraska
Television – Fox Sports 1
Radio – WSCR AM 670
After a week off, DePaul (8-12,1-6) will now travel to Omaha, Nebraska to take on the 16th-ranked Creighton Bluejays (18-3,5-3) on Saturday afternoon in the first of two games between the two programs this season.
DePaul will have had a week off after narrowly losing in overtime, 70-69, to Butler last Saturday. In a game that the Blue Demons led throughout the majority of the game, the Demons could not close out on their chance to secure a win against a top-ranked team.
As a result, DePaul has now lost three games in row. Creighton, meanwhile, is also on a mini slide of its own.
The Bluejays have now dropped two games in a row and their last game was a particularly humbling loss, as they lost by 20 (71-51) at Georgetown on Wednesday. Creighton was held to 35 points below its season scoring average in the loss.
Creighton is still adjusting to life without Maurice Watson after he tore his ACL in Creighton's game at Xavier nearly two weeks ago and their performance since then underscores the importance Watson had on the team.
The star point guard was having an all-American type season leading the nation in assists (8.5), while adding 12.9 points per game on 46.9 percent shooting from three-point range. In his stead, Creighton head coach Greg McDermott has turned to a platoon of senior Isaiah Zierden (who is usually better playing off the ball because of his ability to stroke it from deep) and novice freshman Davion Mintz to handle the lead-guard duties.
The results have been mixed and it may take a while for the Bluejays to fully adjust to life without Watson, so DePaul should seek to maximize the vulnerability of Creighton while it can.
Still, this is an immensely talented Bluejays' team. They have scorers all over the court, as Marcus Foster (18.3 points per game-second in the Big East), Khyri Thomas (11.5 points per game) and freshman big man Justin Patton (14 points per game on an incredulous 71.6 percent shooting from the field) give McDermott enough playmakers to carry them sans Watson.
Plus, this is still a lethal offense. Creighton ranks 14th in the country in scoring (85.4 points per game), second in field-goal percentage (shooting 52 percent as a team), while being tied for 25th in three-point percentage (39.2 percent). That last stat took a major hit after Creighton shot a miserable 1-18 from beyond the arc in the loss to Georgetown.
DePaul can't expect the Bluejays to struggle that badly from three-point range again and defending the three-point line could go a long way toward an upset bid. After getting lambasted from three-point range in losses to Marquette (48.1 percent) and St. John's (54.5 percent), DePaul significantly shored up that aspect in the close loss to Butler, while allowing the Bulldogs to shoot just 25 percent from beyond the arc.
So, again, this game may come down to how the Demons defend the three-point line and how they shoot the trifecta themselves. In the loss to Butler, DePaul shot an encouraging 45.8 percent from three-point range.
Just a reminder, DePaul has yet to win on the road. The Blue Demons are 0-5 in true road games. In fact, DePaul is 0-8 away from their home court (s).
Even though Creighton is not the same team it once was earlier in the season, the contest still all adds up to be a tough challenge for the Demons.
The Last Time
On February 6, 2016, the Bluejays defeated the Blue Demons 88-66 in Omaha.
The Blue Demons struggled to score cost them one on the road. The shots just weren’t falling for DePaul who shot just 27 percent from beyond the arc and 61 percent at the free throw line.
Creighton on the other hand, shot 52 percent overall.
Nevada transfer Cole Huff had a breakout game for the Bluejays. Huff led all scorers with 28 points while coming off the bench.
Myke Henry led the way for DePaul with 22 points and eight rebounds.
Freshman Eli Cain contributed 12 points on five of nine shooting, while Darrick Wood added 12 points off the bench for the Demons.
The Blue Demons gave up way too many points in transition to Creighton and were outworked on the glass by a 43-25 margin.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown / High School Previous School
0 Marcus Foster G 6-3 210 Jr. Wichita Falls, Texas / Hirschi HS Kansas State
1 Davion Mintz G 6-3 175 Fr. Charlotte, N.C. / North Mecklenburg
2 Khyri Thomas G 6-3 205 So. Omaha, Neb. / Benson HS
4 Ronnie Harrell Jr. G 6-7 195 So. Denver, Colo. / East
5 Jordan Scurry G 6-2 205 Fr. Dedham, Mass. / St. Mark's School
10 Maurice Watson Jr. G 5-10 175 Sr. Philadelphia, Pa. / Boys' Latin Boston
11 Tyler Clement G 6-1 185 Jr. Shawnee, Kan. / St. Thomas Aquinas
13 Cole Huff F 6-8 220 Sr. Altadena, Calif. / Campbell Hall Nevada
14 Kaleb Joseph G 6-3 180 Jr. Nashua, N.H. / Cushing Academy Syracuse
15 Martin Krampelj F 6-9 225 Fr. Grosuplje, Slovenia / Impact Academy [Fla.]
21 Isaiah Zierden G 6-3 190 Sr. Minneapolis, Minn. / Benilde-St. Margaret's
23 Justin Patton C 7-0 230 Fr. Omaha, Neb. / North
24 Kobe Paras G 6-6 200 Fr. Manila, Philippines / Los Angeles Cathedral (Calif.)
31 Sam Dunkum F 6-10 215 Fr. North Little Rock, Ark. / North Little Rock Lafayette
32 Toby Hegner F 6-10 235 Jr. Berlin, Wis. / Berlin
40 Zach Hanson C 6-9 245 Sr. Pierre, S.D. / T.F. Riggs