Seton Hall-Creighton Preview
Seton Hall returned to the Top 25 for the first time in three years thanks to back-to-back home wins over ranked opponents to open Big East play. Going on the road, though, has been a different story.
The 19th-ranked Pirates conclude a two-game stretch away from home Saturday when they meet a Creighton team that just had a lengthy home conference winning streak come to an end.
Seton Hall (12-3, 2-1) beat then-No. 15 St. John’s 78-67 on Dec. 31 and defeated then-No. 6 Villanova 66-61 in overtime last Saturday to jump into the poll Monday, earning its highest ranking since being No. 22 on Jan. 30, 2001.
In their first game as a Top 25 team since Jan. 9, 2012, the Pirates visited Xavier on Wednesday and suffered a 69-58 loss to fall to 1-3 away from home. Seton Hall has dropped 18 of 23 on the road, with 15 of those losses coming against conference opponents.
"This league is too good, too balanced," coach Kevin Willard said. "In this league, you’re just not going to win on the road very easily."
The Pirates are eighth in the 10-team Big East in field-goal percentage at 44.7, and they combined to shoot 38.1 percent in the last two. Senior guard Sterling Gibbs, averaging a team-high 16.0 points, shot 3 of 11 and scored eight Wednesday.
Gibbs was named Big East player of the week Monday after averaging 22.5 points and 6.0 assists against St. John’s and Villanova.
"They stayed with him on pick-and-rolls, which he hasn’t seen yet this season," Willard said. "He’s going to have to adjust to it."
Seton Hall lost both matchups with Creighton last season, the Bluejays’ first in the Big East. Gibbs scored 17 in a 79-66 home loss and was suspended for a 72-71 defeat at then-No. 11 Creighton due to an attitude issue.
Doug McDermott scored 30 and 29 in those meetings, but he’s now in the NBA and Creighton (9-7, 0-3) has dropped its first three conference games for the first time since 1993-94, when it was in the Missouri Valley.
The Bluejays fell 70-60 to DePaul on Wednesday to lose four in a row for the first time since 1999-2000 and have their 11-game home conference win streak snapped.
"This team won’t quit," coach Greg McDermott said. "They haven’t all year, and I don’t expect them to now. I think they’ll stick together."
Creighton is last in the conference with a 41.5 field-goal percentage and ranks ninth with 69.5 points per game. It’s shot 34.1 percent and averaged 58.0 points during the four-game skid.
"Do we have enough bullets in our gun at the end of the day? I’m not sure," McDermott said. "… They’ve been in the gym (shooting) a bunch the last few days."
The Bluejays hope to have senior guard Rick Kreklow and junior center Geoffrey Groselle available. Kreklow missed Wednesday’s game and Groselle was limited to three minutes in his second career start as both were dealing with the flu.