Big East powers Creighton, Seton Hall set to collide

NEWARK, N.J. – Two ranked teams meet when No. 25 Creighton plays No. 23 Seton Hall in the Big East Conference opener for both schools on Thursday at the Prudential Center.

Creighton (10-2) comes in with the Big East Player of the Week in Marcus Foster and the Freshman of the Week in Mitch Ballock.

Foster averaged nearly a point a minute in wins against UT Arlington and USC Upstate last week for the Bluejays. In 25 minutes per game, Foster averaged 24.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals. He shot 66.7 percent (18 of 27) from the field, 58.3 percent (7-for-12) from 3-point range and also converted 83.3 percent (5 of 6) at the line to earn the Player of the Week.

Foster has 30 straight games in double figures, the longest active streak in the Big East.

Ballock averaged 13.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists off the bench in two victories. He shot 7 of 13 (53.8 percent) from 3-point range and 9 of 19 (47.4 percent) from the field while also draining both free throw attempts to earn the newcomer award.

Seton Hall (11-2) leads the all-time series with Creighton 11-5, including a 7-3 mark in New Jersey.

“We’ve achieved at a level that maybe people didn’t think was possible,” said Creighton coach Greg McDermott. “Our leadership has been outstanding, in particular Khyri Thomas and Marcus Foster, as well as Toby Hegner and Tyler Clement.”

“If there’s a more improved player in the Big East than Martin Krampel, I think it’d be very hard to find him.”

Creighton is averaging 92.3 points per game, fifth best in the nation, shooting 52.1 percent from the floor and 39.6 percent from 3-point range. The Bluejays also own a plus-7.6 rebound margin.

“They’re extremely balanced,” said Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard of Creighton. “They’re deep. And they play a style that puts you on your heels. What a lot of people don’t talk about is how unselfish they are.”

The Pirates have won seven of their last eight games.

“I think we’re excited about being 11-2,” Willard said. “I think we’ve put ourselves in good position heading into the Big East.

“The older players in our league know if you don’t step it up you are going to get embarrassed and lose games. I thought our guys did a great job of accepting the challenge of the nonconference slate. One thing I’ve been trying to talk to them about is when your point guard’s playing good basketball, you’re playing good basketball. Khadeen’s (Carrington) been great for us at point guard.”

Carrington’s transition to point guard this season has been a success, as he leads the team with 51 assists and has just 27 turnovers. In seven career games against the Bluejays, Carrington is averaging 20.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, while shooting 48.1 percent (13-for-27) from 3-point range.

Desi Rodriguez (17.9 points per game, 5.3 assists per game) shoots 51.5 percent from the floor for Seton Hall and leads the team in scoring, while preseason All-American center Angel Delgado (13.5 points per game, 11.3 rebounds per game) led the nation in rebounding last season, and owns 59 career double-doubles — the most of any active player.

Myles Powell (14.4 points per game) and Carrington (13.1 points, 3.9 assists per game) also average double figures in scoring.

The Pirates average 80.5 points per game while allowing just 67.2 per contest. Seton Hall outrebounds foes by 6.6 rebounds per contest and shoots 48.4 percent from the floor, 36.0 percent from 3-point range and 65.5 percent at the line.