No. 9 Creighton, St. John’s battle for first Big East win
When No. 9 Creighton visits St. John’s on Thursday night for a Big East Conference clash, the contrasting styles will be evident.
The Bluejays take care of the ball as well as anyone in Division I, averaging just 9.5 turnovers per game. The Red Storm specialize in disrupting offenses with pressure defense, forcing more than 19 turnovers a game.
Whichever style prevails Thursday is likely to produce a Big East win.
Both teams are coming off disappointing defeats.
Creighton (4-2, 0-1) blew a second-half lead Monday night to lose its Big East opener at home to Marquette 89-84, while St. John’s (5-3, 0-2) suffered a tough 97-94 overtime setback Sunday at Georgetown.
For the Bluejays, it was their second close loss in three games, as they went down at No. 5 Kansas on Dec. 8, 73-72, when Marcus Zegarowski missed a free throw with 1.1 seconds left that would have tied the game.
While that defeat came down to the bounce of a ball, the Marquette game was more about defense. Creighton gave up 54 second-half points, allowing the Golden Eagles to can 54.8 percent of their field goals and 7 of 9 3-pointers.
“There just wasn’t a lot of resistance,” coach Greg McDermott said to the Omaha World-Herald.
Wasted in the defeat was a supreme shooting effort by Mitch Ballock, who made eight 3-pointers and scored a game-high 26 points. Ballock became just the second player in school history with multiple games of at least eight 3-pointers, joining Kyle Korver on that short list.
Five players are scoring in double figures for the Bluejays, led by Denzel Mahoney and his 16.2 ppg. Creighton enters this game canning 50.8 percent of its field goals and tallying 85 ppg.
Meanwhile, the Red Storm blew a seven-point lead with just under three minutes left in regulation at Georgetown, then took a quick four-point advantage in the first minute of overtime. In both cases, the Hoyas used 8-1 runs to get their way.
St. John’s coach Mike Anderson blamed himself for the loss.
“The guys played their hearts out; I didn’t get the job done,” he said. “The tempo of the game was the way that we wanted it to go, and we had a lot of miscues down the stretch. I can’t say enough about the effort of our guys. I just didn’t put them in the right position at the right time.”
The defeat overshadowed some sterling efforts from Red Storm frontcourt players. Isaih Moore recorded 26 points and 14 rebounds, the first time a St. John’s player has grabbed 14 rebounds in three years. Julian Champagnie added 13 and 12, his third double-double in six games.
This will be the first time the Bluejays and Red Storm have met since March 12, when they played the first half of their Big East quarterfinal at Madison Square Garden. Eighth-seeded St. John’s owned a halftime lead when the game was canceled. The league shut down its tournament due to COVID-19 concerns as the rest of the sports world came to a screeching halt.
–Field Level Media