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Friars vs. Blue Jays: Slowing down a shooter

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Game time: Saturday, Jan. 18 at 8:00 pm
Location: Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, RI
Television: Fox Sports 1
Radio: 103.7 WEEI

On Saturday night Providence gets a visit from perhaps the nation's best offensive team. Just how good has #20 Creighton (15-2, 5-0 in the Big East) been so far?

Let's start from beyond the arc where five different Blue Jays are shooting over 40% from three point range. Creighton is leading the nation in both three point percentage (.433) and three point field goals made (191). Their 191 makes from deep are 15 more than any other team in the country.

Thanks to their three point marksmanship they also lead the country in effective field goal percentage (.588, edging out Gonzaga).

Oh, they are tops in the country in assists per game as well, and they're 16th in free throw shooting.

Of course, everything begins and ends with superstar Doug McDermott. The senior could be on his way to winning the National Player of the Year award (he's currently averaging over 25 points and 7 rebounds per game), which would be a fitting way to cap off a remarkable career.

McDermott has already scored over 2,600 points in his career (he's currently 25th all time in points scored in college basketball history and should finish in the top 10 with over 3,000 in total), and assuming he his named 1st team All American at season's end he'll be the first player to make three straight 1st teams since Patrick Ewing and Wayman Tisdale in 1985.

In McDermott's last four games he's been unstoppable. He scored 24 first half points in this week's blowout of Butler, which followed a 35 point night versus Xavier, 19 in a beating of DePaul and a 30/10 afternoon at Seton Hall.

The Blue Jays have followed McDermott's lead over the past month, winning 10 straight games heading into their first game against Providence since November 2000 (a Creighton victory). They've out-scored their opponents by 19.9 points per game over that span (per ESPN).

In their five Big East wins, only Xavier managed to keep the game within single digits (96-89).

On paper, this looks to be a very difficult matchup for a Providence team playing a six-man rotation. Creighton has eight players giving them at least 13 minutes a night, with only McDermott going over 30 a game.

Still, Providence is a handful at the Dunkin Donuts Center. Back to back wins over Georgetown and St. John's have seemingly breathed new life into Friartown, and an 8 o'clock start should mean a lively audience ready to welcome the newcomers to the Big East.

The last two ranked opponents to come to the Dunk both left with losses (Cincinnati and Notre Dame last February) and the Friars will try to bump that streak to three behind a group that wasn't quite ready to give up on the season after losing three games in a row.

As great as McDermott is, Providence has a star of their own in Bryce Cotton -- one who has continually elevated his game when it seems as though he can't possibly play any better -- and he'll need to be at his best on Saturday if PC is to pull off the upset.

Email Kevin at [email protected]
Twitter: @kevinfarrahar


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