Resilient No. 21 Creighton to host snakebitten St. John’s

NCAA Men's Basketball

If there is one thing No. 21 Creighton has proved this season, it is the ability to overcome a disappointing defeat following a move into the national rankings.

The Bluejays (17-6, 6-4 Big East) will enter Saturday’s home matchup against St. John’s coming off a 73-56 road defeat to a Providence team that has been wildly inconsistent but has now defeated ranked teams in consecutive games.

It is the second time in the span of less than a month Creighton moved into the rankings, only to lose its first game after receiving the honor. The Bluejays were anointed a No. 25 ranking on Jan. 13 and two days later went to Georgetown, only to lose.

Creighton was dropped from the rankings five days after losing to Georgetown, but instead of being demoralized, a resiliency emerged. The Bluejays followed the defeat to the Hoyas with a victory at home over Providence, then ran off key wins over DePaul, Xavier and Villanova, which was ranked No. 8 at the time.

Starting a new winning streak against the Red Storm will require a better shooting day from distance for the Bluejays. While 3-point shooting is the team’s calling card, Creighton was just 6 of 27 (22.2 percent) from distance in the game and a paltry 2 of 14 (14.3 percent) in the second half.

While Creighton has shown it is capable of shooting over a zone defense, Providence’s second-half zone, combined with the Friars’ length, proved tough to overcome.

“They went zone, and that’s kind of when we got stuck in the mud,” Creighton head coach Craig McDermott said. “I think it disrupted our pace some. We couple of decent looks at 3, and we even got behind the defense a couple of times and had some at the rim that were blocked. Our numbers against the zone have been good, but they weren’t (against Providence).”

St. John’s will enter off a heartbreaking 73-72 home defeat Sunday against Georgetown at Madison Square Garden. The Hoyas scored the go-ahead basket with 10.2 seconds remaining after rallying from a 17-point deficit in the second half.

The Red Storm (13-10, 2-8) had the ball one last time, but Rasheem Dunn lost control as he came down court to get in position for the game-winning score.

St. John’s head coach Mike Anderson shook up things to start the day, moving Greg Williams Jr. and Julian Champagnie into the starting lineup over seniors Mustapha Heron and Nick Rutherford. The changes sparked a new energy that St. John’s wasn’t able to sustain.

“I thought our defense was connected; I thought offensively we had great ball movement,” Anderson said. “I thought even the guys that didn’t start came off the bench and gave us some quality minutes. Every now and then you have to shake it up and that’s the biggest key.

“… I thought they did the things that I needed them to do. Our biggest hurdle has been finishing. We’re in position. We got to finish.”

The Red Storm will enter with five Big East defeats in their last six games. Saturday is the first of two meetings in a span of 21 days between Creighton and St. John’s.

–Field Level Media

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