Teams: Creighton (2-0) vs. Saint Joseph's (2-0)
Day: Saturday, Nov. 16
Time: 7:00 PM ET
Location: Hagan Arena; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
TV: The Comcast Network or SportsNet New York
Radio: 1620 KZON-AM (Creighton) or WIP-610 AM (St. Joseph's)
What a night it was for Doug McDermott against UMKC. With the nation watching on FOX Sports 1, McDermott scored 37 points and added seven rebounds to his superb night on the floor. The National Player of the Year candidate will surely look to create another mesmerizing performance. The last time that McDermott made the trip to Hagan Arena was 2011 and he scored 26 points and picked up 10 rebounds in an 80-71 loss to the Hawks. With McDermott's talent, another line like that would not be much of a surprise, but one would expect him and the rest of the Bluejays squad to try and reverse their fortunes in Philadelphia this time around.
Two of the nation's best rebounding teams will be duking it out in between the paint, and some may say that Creighton has the edge in that department. Through two games, it is an interesting case to be made. While the Hawks have 44 rebounds per game so far this season, good for 48th in the nation, they have failed to make an impact in the paint. They have only scored 28 points in the paint in their two games this season. Meanwhile, Creighton is 20th in the nation in rebounding, averaging 48 rebounds per game, and have nearly tripled the output that St. Joseph's has had in the paint, scoring 86 total points in the paint through their first two games. Will Artino and Zach Hanson ought to have a big role in the Bluejays' successes Saturday night, or possibly the lack thereof if things turn sour.
St. Joseph's Headlines
For the team that was picked to finish 5th in the Atlantic 10 Conference in the preseason poll, the Saint Joseph's Hawks have looked impressive in their two victories this season. One could point to the veteran presence on this team as a contributing factor. Delving deeper, and more specifically, you can zero in on seniors Langston Galloway and Ronald Roberts, Jr. Both picked for the Second Team Preseason All-Conference squad, Galloway and Roberts have led the way in the 2013-14 season. Both picked up double figures in their first two outings, with Galloway, a native of Baton Rouge, La., scored 21 and 20 and Roberts, a native of Bayonne, N.J., scored 21 and 16. These two are both far and away the most superior Hawks on the floor on a team loaded with veterans, and could very well put a scare into the Bluejays if they get hot.
The Hawks could very well pose a threat to the Bluejays and their ability to score at will. In their first two games, Saint Joseph's has allowed 64 and 62 points respectively, rounding out to an average of 63 points per game allowed. It is certainly possible that it could be tied to the competition they faced, with the Hawks taking on the Vermont Catamounts and the Marist Red Foxes. With that said, this fits the bill for the Hawks who last year allowed 63.2 points per game in their 30 games played, which was good for 104th in the nation. It is an unenviable task to take on the team that is currently ranked ninth in scoring (101.5 points per game) but the Hawks have the discipline to possibly snuff out the scorers of the Creighton Bluejays.
The last two games, I have focused on Devin Brooks in this segment of the preview. This time, I'm looking at Grant Gibbs to try and make his presence felt. In two games this season he has averaged 19 minutes and in those, he has just averaged two points and two rebounds. On the flip side, Gibbs has been a great distributor, piling up an average of six assists per game including seven on Monday night against UMKC. As dangerous as the Bluejays are offensively, if Gibbs can start making buckets and continue his torrid pace in assists, they could be lethal on offense. An outburst from Gibbs in this upcoming contest would not surprise in the least.
It is true that the top two leading scorers in Galloway and Roberts provide much of the impact felt on the Hawks' side. However, there is a newcomer that has made waves in the early goings of the 2013-14 campaign. Freshman forward DeAndre Bembry has stepped up into his new role and has made his presence felt amongst a bevy of veteran talents around him. Bembry, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, has scored 10 points per game on 50 percent shooting from the floor and is shooting a very impressive 60 percent from the 3-point line. It is more than likely that Galloway and Roberts will get theirs is this contest, but if Bembry provides some of his own, the Bluejays could be on upset alert.
Creighton is not going to be playing the likes of Alcorn State and UMKC, two teams that they trounced upon in CenturyLink Center Omaha. This early test for the Bluejays will go a long way in determining the early season successes of a team that is new to playing with the big boys. With the game being in the Hagan Arena, Creighton may slip up a few times, and it could proven to be imperative that they get out of their slow start trend. In their last two contests, they were able to get away with it. This time, the Bluejays will need to play crisp, strong basketball from the opening bell on. It will be a close one at Hagan, but the Bluejays should prevail in this early season test.
Creighton 85 St. Joseph's 79