No. 20 Creighton tries to get back on point against Georgetown

OMAHA, Neb. — What Creighton and Georgetown seek to gain from Sunday’s Big East rematch are significantly different three weeks before the conference tournament.

With an NCAA bid seemingly secure, the No. 20-ranked Bluejays are looking to bounce back from two setbacks — Wednesday’s 87-81 loss at Seton Hall and the 71-51 drubbing that Georgetown delivered to Creighton on Jan. 25 in Washington, D.C.

Georgetown hasn’t played since Feb. 11 and needs another signature win or two to spice up its resume for an NCAA tournament bid. The Hoyas are 14-12 (5-8 Big East) with three road wins — at Butler, Oregon and Syracuse.

That first meeting between Creighton and Georgetown was the low point of the season for the Bluejays (21-5, 8-5). The normally sharp-shooting Jays made just 1 of 19 from 3-point range, and it was Creighton’s second game without point guard and Wooden Player of the Year candidate Maurice Watson.

Watson, a senior from Philadelphia, suffered a season-ending knee injury in a Jan. 16 victory at Xavier. The Bluejays have had a rough go of it since then with a 3-4 record after an 18-1 start, with a loss only to then-No. 1-ranked Villanova.

After Wednesday’s loss to Seton Hall, another setback could knock Creighton out of the Top 25 for the first time all season.

With road games against Villanova and Marquette before the Big East tournament, Creighton risks tumbling down the NCAA bracket from potentially a 5 or 6 seed to an 8 or 9 if they can’t hold serve at home.

Hoyas coach John Thompson III knows from the past three seasons since Creighton joined the Big East that CenturyLink Center is a difficult venue for any opponent, especially one that already owns a big win over the home team.

“Their fans are crazy, and I say that in a positive sense,” Thompson told The Washington Post. “It’s going to be sold out. It’s loud in there. It’s one of the more difficult placesto play in the league to be honest. Their fans area great, and (players) definitely feel it, they definitely see it. It definitely energizes them.”

Those fans also have shown their appreciation for Watson and what he meant to the Bluejays before suffering that torn ACL. The national leader in assists, both this season and active career players, Watson has received standing ovations when joining his teammates to watch warmups.

Thompson knows Creighton will have a more confident approach this time around without Watson because it will be the eighth game minus their former floor general.

“They’ve adjusted a lot, quite honestly, but they have so many weapons that it’s easy to adjust,” Thompson told the Post. “I feel that they have adjusted to how they’re doing things, I don’t want to say much different, but differently without Mo in the game.”

Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster leads the Bluejays in scoring at 18.0 points per game, having scored 12 points or more in all but two games this season.

Sophomore guard Khyri Thomas averages 12.1 points per game and redshirt freshman Justin Patton averages 13.7 points and 6.3 points. The 7-foot Patton is shooting 70.0 percent from the field (third nationally) and already has 59 dunks.

Robert Morris transfer Rodney Pryor averages 18.3 points per game and L.J. Peak is right behind with at 16.6 for Georgetown. As a team, the Hoyas are shooting 45.6 percent from the field, 36.6 percent from 3-point range and 73.6 percent at the line.