NCAA BK

Seton Hall-Creighton Preview

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Led by the nation's top scorer, Creighton appears to be peaking offensively heading into the regular season's final two weeks.

Now the Bluejays have a good chance to continue that surge against a Seton Hall team that couldn't slow down Doug McDermott last month.

The star forward will try to help No. 11 Creighton to its 17th straight home win on McDermott bobblehead day Sunday against the Pirates.

The Bluejays (22-4, 12-2) have been dominant on offense in their last two games despite playing the Big East's only other ranked team and the conference leader in scoring defense. They had their two best shooting performances of the season, hitting 64.2 percent from the field in a 101-80 win over then-No. 6 Villanova last Sunday and 62.2 percent in a 85-70 victory at Marquette on Wednesday.

Creighton was 21 of 38 from 3-point range in those victories and became just the third team all season to reach 80 points against Marquette, which entered this weekend allowing a league-low 66.1 per game.

McDermott, averaging 25.8 points, has been particularly efficient in the last two wins as he's gone 22 for 29 from the field. Over his last six games, he's averaged 31.0 points and made 16 of 31 from 3-point range. He scored 17 of his 25 in the second half Wednesday while shooting 9 for 12 overall - his fewest field-goal attempts in 2014.

"Kind of just relaxed, and in the second half really just let the game come to me, and was able to get good shots," McDermott said after leading the Bluejays to their seventh win in eight games.

The senior pushed his career total to 2,888 points, moving past Houston's Elvin Hayes (2,884) and North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough (2,872) into 11th place on the NCAA's career list. He's 26 shy of Alfredrick Hughes for 10th.

McDermott certainly made things tough on Seton Hall (14-12, 5-8) on Jan. 4, finishing with 30 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a 79-66 victory in New Jersey.

That loss began a rough 3-8 stretch for the Pirates before they snapped a three-game losing streak with an 82-67 home win over Georgetown on Thursday.

Fuquan Edwin led the way with 21 points and Sterling Gibbs had 18 as Seton Hall shot 55.1 percent en route to its first sweep of the Hoyas since 2002-03.

Gibbs had 17 points last month against Creighton while Edwin scored only eight, but he's averaged 18.6 in nine games since moving into the starting lineup.

"I think it's going to be a tough game," McDermott said. "They're playing with a lot of confidence. They're not going to shy away from our crowd."

The Bluejays have won 16 in a row at home by an average of 19.2 points since a 75-72 loss to Illinois State on Feb. 9, 2013.

The Pirates have stopped a pair of lengthy home winning streaks this season - Georgetown at 16 and Xavier at 13 - but have dropped 28 of 29 road games against ranked opponents.

"We have to protect our home floor, it's that simple," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "Talent-wise, I think there's plenty to go around on (Seton Hall)."

The Pirates have won six of eight all-time meetings, though the teams have never met in Omaha.

Tagged: Creighton, Seton Hall, Doug McDermott

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