Rushed Reactions: #14 Creighton 86, Xavier 78Posted by Brian Otskey on March 14th, 2014
Brian Otskey will be reporting from the Big East Tournament all week.
Three Key Takeaways.
- You cannot stop Creighton’s offense, you can only hope to contain it. Creighton’s offense is by far the most efficient in the nation. When you can spread the floor with four or five three-point shooters, you can get an open shot nearly every time. That’s what Creighton does to nearly every team, making it nearly impossible to defend. Xavier could not contain the three-point barrage and, despite a late run, could never get to a point where it truly threatened the Bluejays. Big runs necessitate stops and it is more difficult to get them against Creighton than against any other team in America. To beat Creighton, a team must expose it defensively and dominate the rebounding. You have to generate extra possessions and also hope they just miss shots they usually make. Creighton’s defense is not elite by any means, but if you limit possessions, you can beat them. Xavier did not do that tonight.
- Xavier showed tremendous resolve. Almost everyone in the building thought this game was headed into blowout territory but the Musketeers trimmed the lead to as little as five points with 1:27 left to play. If the eye test does exist, Xavier passed it in this week’s Big East Tournament. Chris Mack’s team methodically took out Marquette last night and fought a hard battle against Creighton tonight. This is a team that can win a game in the NCAA Tournament and maybe two with the right match-ups.
- Creighton’s three-point defense kept Xavier in check. After the game, Greg McDermott said part of the Bluejays’ game plan was to concede the post and be aggressive on the three-point line. When Creighton lost to Xavier recently, the Musketeers made nine three-pointers. Tonight they were held to 4-of-16 from distance. Both Myles and Dee Davis struggled, along with Semaj Christon. Creighton allowed Isaiah Philmore to make nine of his 13 field goal attempts but that wasn’t nearly enough to propel Xavier to an upset. When you consider how good Creighton shoots the ball from deep, it was a fantastic game plan by McDermott and his staff. After all, three is still, in fact, greater than two.
Star of the Game: Doug McDermott, Creighton. Does this really need an explanation? The kid is a machine. 32 points on 10-for-20 shooting, ho-hum.
- “Someone is definitely keeping track of that for me.” – Doug McDermott, on whether he is tracking his rise up the NCAA all-time scoring list (now in fifth place).
- “When you get on that stage, the adrenaline takes over.” – Greg McDermott, on fatigue being a factor tomorrow night.
- “The shooting level on the floor is like nothing I’ve seen before at the college level.” – Xavier head coach Chris Mack, on Creighton’s offense.
Sights and Sounds: Creighton basketball is a religious experience. The crowd was 95 percent Bluejays fans and they were loud. The turnout and intensity compares favorably to the times when Syracuse fans would dominate this arena and drown out any opposing fan base. Creighton fans are some of the most passionate I’ve ever come across. With their presence, the Garden was packed for most of the night before it predictably started to thin out as the Bluejays built a big lead.
- With this victory, Creighton advances to the Big East Tournament championship game in its first year in the conference. The Bluejays will take on Providence tomorrow night at 8:30 PM ET in pursuit of the conference’s automatic bid to next week’s NCAA Tournament.
- Xavier is not a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but it has to be feeling pretty good about its chances. I wouldn’t guarantee it, but the Musketeers should hear their name called on Sunday evening. Either way, there will be more basketball for this team next week.