Teams: Creighton (9-2) vs. Chicago State (5-7)
Day: Sunday, Dec. 29
Time: 5:07 PM ET
Location: CenturyLink Center Omaha; Omaha, Neb.
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: 1620 KZON-AM (Creighton)
Creighton superstar forward Doug McDermott is on the cusp of joining elite company in this upcoming contest. He is 11 points away from joining the 2,500 points club, which would make him the 64th entry into that club. Several of those names include Jimmer Fredette, Elgin Baylor, J.J. Redick, Allan Houston, Larry Bird and Tyler Hansbrough just to name a few. McDermott is also looking to continue his terrific stretch of play that he has been on as of late. In 10 of 11 games played this season, McDermott has notched 20 points or more, and going back to last season, he has etched that mark 17 of the last 19 times he's hit the floor. It goes without saying that he is one of the elite scorers in the country andit would be take a relentless defensive effort from Chicago St. to keep him down.
The Bluejays are steadily rising as one of the top offenses in all of college basketball. They rank in the amongst the elite in both baseline statistics and in advanced metrics as well. They rank 27th in points per game with 82.3, fifth in assists per game with 18.4, and 34th in FG% shooting 48.7 percent on the season from the field. Delving further, they are scoring 118.2 points per 100 possessions, possess an Effective FG% of 58.2 and as a team shoot 42.1 percent from the 3-point line. Those marks rank 4th, 3rd, and 10th respectively. On any given night the Bluejays can score at will, and lately they have been matched up with teams that simply cannot keep up with their pace. They will have to rebound after a tough shooting performance against California last Sunday, where they only shot 31.8 percent from the 3-point line and 44.6 percent from the field.
Chicago State Storylines
The Chicago State Cougars suffered their worst loss of the season last Monday. Against Cincinnati, the Bearcats trounced the Cougars 102-62 at the Fifth Third Arena. One of the big factors in this loss was the fact that the Cougars were abysmal in the rebounding department. Cincinnati had a rebounding margin of 48, outpacing Chicago State 69-21 in that phase of the game. The margin was a school record for the Bearcats. To the Cougars' delight, Creighton is hanging right around the Division-1 average in Off. Rebounding%, ranking 192nd with a percentage of 30.9. Chicago State should not expect to be outpaced by that much, but it will be interesting to see how they can bounce back from such a disappointing performance .
When it comes to offense, Chicago State gets the most output from senior Quinton Pippen. If the last name strikes you as familiar, it should. Quinton is the nephew of NBA legend Scottie Pippen. Pippen is scoring a team high 14.7 points per game in an average of 30.0 minutes per game. Pippen is doing his best work this season right at the rim. 17.2 percent of his shots are being taken at the rim, and he is converting 64.0 percent of those attempts. In terms of efficiency, there is certainly a large room for improvement. His TS% is only 50.4 percent and his eFG% is just 47.2. With that said however, expect the offense to run through Quinton Pippen and for Creighton to key on him for most of the game.
Lately, Will Artino has done an excellent job of collecting minutes off of the bench and contributing offensively. Since he was removed from the starting lineup for Ethan Wragge, Artino has responded very well. The sophomore big man has scored an average of 7.8 points and collected an average of 4.3 rebounds in the four games in which he has come off the bench. He is learning his new role after Greg McDermott decided to go with a predominantly small lineup and he is adding a boost to the second unit of the Bluejays. We will see if he can continue that success against the Cougars.
Clarke Rosenberg, a 6'3 junior, has been a very significant contributor for the Cougars through their first 12 games. Not only has he been dynamite from the free throw line, converting 80.4 percent of his 46 attempts, he has also been one of the Cougars' best 3-point shooters. On 28 attempts this season, he has converted 12 of them, making for a mark of 42.9 percent. If Rosenberg gets hot from beyond the arc, he could give the boost the Cougars could need to put a scare into the Creighton Bluejays.
Is this a classic case of getting caught napping? All things considered, it could very well be. The Creighton BLuejays will take on the Marquette Golden Eagles on New Year's Eve, but two days before that, they host these Chicago State Cougars. While stats seem to indicate that the Cougars are not one of the better teams in the nation, they have given a lot of very solid teams runs for their money. This could perhaps be an indicator of things to come in this game. Greg McDermott will have to do a very good job of coaching his team up so that they do not fall into a trap in this game. With that said, talent should eventually prevail.
Creighton 81 Chicago State 69