Creighton-St. John's Preview
As the nation's top outside shooting team, Creighton has shown it can keep up with anyone on the scoreboard.
The No. 12 Bluejays will need to have their offense at its best as they start a tough stretch of their schedule Sunday night against St. John's at Madison Square Garden.
Following three consecutive home victories, Creighton's trip to New York is the first of three road games the team will play over its next four contests. The only home game for the Bluejays during that stretch comes Feb. 16 against No. 6 Villanova.
"(St. John's) is playing some of the best basketball in the Big East, so they are going to come after us," said forward Doug McDermott. "They are going to be extremely hyped for this game, and it's going to be a great atmosphere."
Creighton (19-3, 9-1) will be playing its second game in three days after knocking off DePaul 78-66 on Friday. McDermott scored 32 points and pulled down nine rebounds, but the team did not shoot up to its normal standards from 3-point range. The Bluejays made 7 of 25 from outside, a 28-percent mark that tied the team's second-worst of 2013-14.
On the season, Creighton is shooting 42.5 percent from 3-point range.
There were positives against the Blue Demons, though - especially the way Creighton shared the ball. The team assisted on 20 of 26 field goals, thanks in large part to the play of Grant Gibbs, who returned to the lineup after missing a month because of a dislocated kneecap. Gibbs had eight assists and seven points off the bench.
"It was really rejuvenating to get back out there with my teammates," he said. "Got a little work to do to get back to 100 percent. For the most part I felt good. I've got to get my legs and my wind back."
Gibbs was sidelined for the last meeting with the Red Storm on Jan. 28. The Bluejays blew an 18-point lead, but were rescued by McDermott when he hit a 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left for a 63-60 win. The senior scored a season-high 39 in the victory.
The loss to Creighton was the only setback since Jan. 18 for St. John's (14-9, 4-6), which has won five of its last six.
The Red Storm hung on for an 86-76 win at Providence on Tuesday despite some poor shooting by their top scorer. D'Angelo Harrison was 4 of 15 from the field, but managed to make 11 of 12 free throws and finished with 22 points. Jakarr Sampson added 21.
St. John's scored 53 first-half points against the Friars, a trend it will look to continue versus the Bluejays. When the teams met last month, the Red Storm were outscored 29-25 in the game's first 20 minutes.
"We have to come out fast," said forward Sir'Dominic Pointer. "Currently we are playing with a great rhythm and doing well. In the Creighton game, we started off slowly and picked it up in the second half, but in the last two games we've started off fast from the start and that's what we have to keep doing.
"That's how we are going to contend in the Big East."
St. John's leads the all-time series against Creighton 5-3. The teams have not played in New York since 1965.