The Big East is no longer the Power House conference it used to be but there’s still plenty of talent and quality in it, which this season is mostly concentrated between Creighton and Villanova. For the second time this season the Bluejays and especially Doug McDermott proved it’s not really a fair fight between these two either.
The senior and leading favorite to win the Wooden award scored a season high 39 points, passing Larry Bird on the all-time College Basketball scoring list (now he’s 13th), leading Creighton to a 101-80 win, grabbing the top spot in the conference (11-2), while the Wildcats, losing to Creighton by more than 20 points for the second time this season, are 0.5 games behind.
While it’s easy to focus on McDermott and his heroics, there was more to this win than just the Senior’s shooting. Creighton outscored Villanova 44-22 in the paint, and became the first team since Georgetown in 2010 to score over 100 points against the Wildcats. It wasn’t about rebounding dominance or running the court, but simply getting into the paint and getting good shots whenever they needed, making 64% of their field goal attempts and 9-of-15 from beyond the arc, with Austin Chatman finishing with 8 assists.
I didn’t think we could play much better than we did at Villanova (96-68 win for Creighton). But I’m not sure we didn’t play better today. We didn’t have the crazy shooting night from the 3-point line, but the other parts of the game were really good. Doug was obviously incredible. He has a way of stepping up for these games, and today was certainly an example of that.
Creighton had a 72.6% effective field goal night, its third highest this season. The Bluejays’ best effective field goal percentage of the season came in their first matchup against Villanova (75%). The Bluejays averaged 146.7 points per 100 possessions, even better than their 145.5 points per 100 possessions in the first win over “Nova this season. Villanova haven’t allowed more than 130 points per 100 possessions in any other game in the last three seasons.
It’s the second win this season for Creighton over a ranked opponents (the same one), which slightly improves their place among the predictions for the NCAA tournament. It’s incredible to think Villanova are 12 places above them in the polls, but that will soon change, but it does help Villanova that their only three losses this season have come against Syracuse and Ceighton (twice). For the Bluejays, there have been losses to Providence, St. John’s, George Washington and San Diego State, which makes them a bit difficult to read. However, their next three road games at Marquette, Xavier and Georgetown will tell us a lot about how far this team can go.
They’ve got the best player in the country, and he makes everybody better around him. They’re just a tough matchup for us. Our style of play and their style of play kind of leads to these kinds of games. We’ve got to find the answer if we face them again.
McDermott knows he isn’t Larry Bird. His 2863 points have come in four seasons and not three like Bird, who also averaged 30.3 pointer per game without a three-point shot being allowed. McDermott is averaging 21.2 points per game in his college career, 25.9 points this season.
But there’s more to this player than just being the son of the coach and having system designed for him to score. Creighton haven’t been so successful over the last few years because McDermott gets preferential treatment. He is a special college player on a team that fits his style. It might not take them as far as they’d like, but it’s going to be a very enjoyable ride.