Test Creighton-Georgetown Preview

Creighton will have to overcome some adversity in the regular season’s final week if it hopes to earn the top seed in its first Big East tournament appearance.

After losing one of their top reserves, the 13th-ranked Bluejays look to keep their conference title hopes alive while avoiding a second consecutive loss Tuesday night at Georgetown.

Creighton (23-5, 13-3) had been playing at a high level with 81.5 points per game and a 57.1 field-goal percentage – 50.7 from 3-point range – over a four-game winning streak.

The Bluejays, however, struggled to match that production in Saturday’s 75-69 loss at Xavier that delivered a key blow to their quest to claim the top seed in the Big East tourney.

Although Doug McDermott had 27 points and 10 rebounds, Creighton had its worst shooting effort in three months at 39.0 percent and hit only 10 of 34 from beyond the arc. The Bluejays also had nearly as many turnovers (15) as assists (17).

”We had a couple of forced ones,” McDermott said. ”That’s not who we are. We are a team that historically shares the ball. We’ll get back to that. Nothing to worry about here.”

McDermott, leading the nation with 26.0 points per game, is eight points away from passing Danny Manning (2,951) for ninth on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list and 30 shy of passing Oscar Robertson (2,973) for eighth.

Creighton fell a game behind Villanova with two remaining following the Wildcats’ 73-56 win over Marquette on Sunday. By virtue of a head-to-head sweep, the Bluejays would secure the top seed in the Big East tournament should the teams finish in a tie.

They’ll be short-handed as they try to get within a half-game of the lead in their first visit to the Verizon Center. Freshman guard Isaiah Zierden will be out for an indefinite period due to ligament damage in his right knee.

Zierden had been playing more over the past month and totaled 20 points in his previous three games before getting injured Saturday.

The Bluejays could have a difficult time getting back on track offensively against a Georgetown team that has allowed a league-low 38.0 field-goal percentage while ranking second in scoring defense (61.7 points per game) at home.

The Hoyas (16-12, 7-9) limited McDermott to 14 points – his second-lowest total of the season – on 5-of-15 shooting in a 76-63 road loss Jan. 25. Since then, the senior forward has scored at last 25 in eight straight games while averaging 30.3.

Georgetown’s Markel Starks finished with 21 points while D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera contributed 18, but the Hoyas shot 39.3 percent in the first meeting. Starks averages a team-high 17.0 points and Smith-Rivera scores 16.9 per game.

Georgetown wasn’t much better Thursday, shooting 7 for 26 in the second half of a 75-73 loss at Marquette. With three losses in four games, the Hoyas may have played their way off the NCAA tournament bubble.

Starks scored 24 against the Golden Eagles and Smith-Rivera added 19, but he missed a potential game-tying layup with three seconds remaining.

”We can’t hang our heads," said junior Jabril Trawick, who matched a season high with 16 points. "We’ve got to get focused. If we bring the same energy against Creighton, I have confidence we will do well.”

The Hoyas, who have dropped both all-time meetings with Creighton, are averaging 76.0 points and shooting 49.4 percent during a three-game home win streak.