No. 10 Creighton braces for stern test from Providence (Jan 07, 2017)

Creighton coach Greg McDermott may have been stating the obvious after his 10th-ranked Bluejays survived a late St. John’s comeback in New York on Wednesday night.

“Nothing comes easy,” McDermott said after Creighton improved to 14-1 and ended its one-game losing streak with the 85-72 win. “It’s a really good basketball league.”

And it really doesn’t let up in the Big East, where only one team – Xavier (2-0) – is unbeaten and two of the 10 winless in conference play through the early stretch of the league season.

“When you look at our league is tough, every single night you can’t be surprised by the results,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said after his team defeated Georgetown at home Wednesday night.

The Bluejays, 2-1 in the conference with the loss coming at home to No. 1 Villanova, complete their two-game eastern swing at Providence Saturday.

Justin Patton scored a career-high 25 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out four assists in the latest win. He leads the Big East – and is third in the nation – with a 74.8 shooting percentage.

The 7-footer was 11-for-14 from the floor at St. John’s, where McDermott had to rely on his bench to make it through against the aggressive Red Storm.

“By far, they were the toughest team we played,” Shamorie Ponds said after his Johnnies came up short. “They’re tough. It’s going to be hard to beat them on the road, the way they came in here and beat us.”

McDermott is 1-6 all-time against Providence. Cooley is 6-2 against the Bluejays, whose 13-0 start to the season was the program’s best since 1942-43. But much of that damage was done with NBA draftees Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil and the Friars are in a bit of a rebuild – but still have 12 wins.

The Friars are 10-0 at home.

“I’m just happy that our players were able to respond to a really tough road trip,” Cooley said. “It’s great to be at home. I’m glad to see our players fought today. I thought we grew up today. It was a great Big East battle.”

Providence lost at nationally ranked Xavier and Butler before coming home with the win, their fifth straight over the Hoyas.

“Coming off a couple of road losses in this league, you have to try to keep your players’ positive and make sure no one gets too down,” Cooley said, “but at the same time, urgent to get the next possible win.”

The upcoming game features two of the top distributors in the country. Creighton’s Maurice Watson, a preseason All-Big East pick, leads the country in assists at 8.8 per game, while Providence’s Kyron Cartwright is third at 7.1.

Transfer Marcus Foster leads the Bluejays in scoring at 18.7 points per game – the highest average by a Creighton newcomer since Cyril Baptiste in 1969-70.

Rodney Bullock leads the Friars (12-5) in scoring (18.1) and rebounding (6.3)per game.

“I’m just really proud of our group to get back on the winning side,” Cooley said after the Georgetown game.

The Bluejays return home to face No. 18 Butler Wednesday, while the Friars travel to DePaul for a Tuesday night game.