No one would guess from watching players such as Marcus Zegarowski and Mitch Ballock drain 3-pointers from Trae Young range that No. 15 Creighton is one of the worst free-throw shooting teams in Division I.
DePaul wouldn’t have guessed it, either, not after the Bluejays went against form Saturday night in Chicago and hit 17 of 20 to help ward off an upset bid and win the Big East Conference matchup 69-62.
Creighton (13-4, 9-3 Big East) will to earn its fourth straight victory Wednesday night at home in Omaha, Neb., when it welcomes Georgetown for another Big East clash.
The Bluejays lead the conference in scoring at 80.2 points per game and field goal percentage at 48.5 percent. Yet when it comes to shooting unguarded 15-footers, they somehow rank 270th in Division I at 66.7 percent.
In fact, Zegarowski missed a foul shot with just over a second left in a marquee non-conference clash at Kansas on Dec. 8 that cost Creighton a chance to force overtime in a game it lost by a point. But at DePaul, the Bluejays stepped to the stripe and made all 11 of their free throws in the second half, earning their 13th straight win over the Blue Demons.
“Obviously the difference in the game,” coach Greg McDermott told the Omaha World-Herald. “Sometimes, you’ve just got to win games like this when you’re not perfect.”
Zegarowski led the way with 19 points, upping his season average to 14.9. Denzel Mahoney paces four players in double figures at 15.2, while Damien Jefferson (12.5) and Christian Bishop (11.0) also are threats to reach 20 on any given night.
The Bluejays also been solid without the ball, ranking second in the conference in defensive field goal percentage at 40.1 percent and limiting opponents to 32.8 percent on 3-pointers.
Meanwhile, Georgetown (4-8, 2-5) came off a 21-day break due to COVID-19 on Saturday and put together one of its best games of the season, toppling Providence 73-72 at home as Chudier Bile came off the bench to score a season-high 19 points and grab nine rebounds.
The Hoyas had their four previous games postponed due to the pandemic and showed rust early, trailing by 15 points before the 10-minute mark of the first half. But they cut that deficit to four at the half and then pulled out the win down the stretch.
“We showed some growth today,” Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing said. “We just kept on fighting, kept on persevering and was able to come away with the win. It was a great win for us.”
Jahvon Blair’s 17.3 points per game lead the Hoyas, although he could stand to be more efficient, as he’s making only 39.1 percent of his shots. Qudus Wahab has become a threat inside with 11.8 ppg, 7.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots.
This will be the first of two meetings between the teams in a seven-day stretch. They will get together on Feb. 9 at Georgetown to make up a postponement from December.
Creighton leads the all-time series 9-6. The teams split their two games in the 2019-20 season.
–Field Level Media