No. 10 Creighton hosts upset-minded Buffalo
Creighton begins the third week of the regular season, featuring a pair of games against Mid-American Conference opponents, from a higher perch in the Associated Press rankings.
The 6-0 Bluejays jumped two spots to No. 10 in the latest rankings, released Monday. It's the third time in school history that Creighton has appeared in the Top 10 since the poll was founded in 1949.
Jays coach Greg McDermott said the new rating is a nice way to show how the season is progressing for Creighton, which is one of three Big East teams in the Top 10.
“Because we started the preseason ranked in the Top 25 it means you've played okay so far,” McDermott said. “We've taken care of business to this point. Our offense has been incredibly efficient but those polls mean a lot more later in the season than they do now.”
McDermott said he talked with the team before the new ratings were published about the importance of remembering where the Bluejays were less than a year ago and the role they had in these kinds of games.
“We have to remember back last year when we went on the road to Providence, Butler, Xavier and Villanova, Seton Hall, teams that were ranked in the Top 25,” McDermott said. “How you have just a little bit extra motivation when you go into those environments.”
That's the perspective Buffalo will have when the Bulls play the Jays in Tuesday's 7:45 p.m. showdown at CenturyLink Center. The Bulls, who are the defending MAC postseason tournament champions, enter the game 4-2 after finishing third at last week's Great Alaska Shootout.
“Now the shoe is on the other foot,” McDermott said. “A team like Buffalo comes in here in search of a signature win. They're an NCAA tournament team from a year ago, and they played very well in the NCAA tournament. A lot of those guys return.”
Blake Hamilton leads the Bulls with 16.7 points per game and is second in both rebounds (6.7) and assists (4.2). Leading rebounder Nick Perkins is second in scoring at 13.7 per game to go with his 8.2 boards per outing.
Creighton counters with its deep offensive rotation that leads the nation in three-point shooting (47.9 percent) and is second in overall field goal percentage (.547) while averaging 91.8 points per game. That number puts the Jays eighth nationally in scoring.
Marcus Foster was named player of the week while Justin Patton earned freshman of the week honors in the Big East Conference. Foster averaged 20.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in Creighton's two victories last week.
Patton averaged 14 points and 5.5 rebounds in those same two games. The 7-foot redshirt freshman from Omaha North also had two assists, two blocked shots and a steal. Patton scored 22 of his 28 points in the second half of those wins over Mississippi and Loyola (Md.).
“It means a lot to me because I take my game week by week every week,” Foster said. “My teammates really helped me get it. They looked for me a lot and I got (some) easy baskets from them.”