Teams: Creighton (16-3; 6-1) vs. Georgetown (11-7; 3-4)
Day: Saturday, Jan. 25
Time: 8:00 PM ET
Location: CenturyLink Center Omaha; Omaha, Neb.
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: 1620 KZON-AM (Creighton) or WSPZ-570 (Georgetown)
Following one of the most prolific performances on a basketball court in BIG EAST basketball history, the Creighton Bluejays hit the floor this Saturday night. After dismantling the No.4 Villanova Wildcats, the Bluejays will take on another former BIG EAST power in the form of the Georgetown Hoyas.
It is likely unreasonable to suspect that Creighton will come out with all guns blazing as they did on Monday night inside the Wells Fargo Center. But, that doesn't mean that the Creighton offense is not still one of the best in America. The Hoyas however, to their credit, boasted a solid defensive club.
They are inside the Top-50 in Effective FG%, 2PT FG%, 3PT FG% and Steal% from a defensive standpoint. For this reason, one should suspect that Creighton may go about attempting to space the floor and attack from the perimeter, just as they did against Villanova on Monday night.
They might not nearly have the same, über-efficient results. But the game plan should remain a similar one.
You know about Doug McDermott and most of the nation likely just learned about Ethan Wragge after his incredible performance from the 3-point arc against the Wildcats. A name that is trending upwards though is Jahenns Manigat. Manigat, a 6'1" senior shooting guard from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada has recently seen his play improve dramatically since the BIG EAST conference season began. In seven games, Manigat is averaging 11.14 points on 48.2 percent shooting from all over the floor.
Although he is still maintaining somewhat of a limited role, accounting for just 14.2 percent of possessions and 15.4 percent of shots taken, he has been a supremely efficient shooter from the field. Even further from his 48.2 percent mark in BIG EAST play, on the season Manigat's eFG% and TS% are an impressive 65.5 and 67.3 percent respectively, which are both dramatic leaps from the 53.5 and 55.0 percent the Canada native maintained last season.
McDermott and Wragge might be stealing all of the headlines, but a big, big reason that the Bluejays have been so successful and so potent has been the improved play of Manigat.
At 11-7, it is hard to argue that this has been a disappointing season for the Hoyas. Sporting an under .500 mark in BIG EAST play, and riding a three-game losing streak going into this game in Omaha, John Thompson III's club is in desperate need of finding answers, and quickly at that.
When taking a snapshot at what made the 2012-13 Georgetown Hoyas such a great team during the regular season,you would immediately notice that it was defense. Although the club this season has been far from a liability on that side of the ball, they were remarkably better last season.
This was the 2nd best team in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, allowing only 86.2 points per 100 possessions, yielding an eFG% of just 43.0 percent, and only allowing 41.4 percent of 2-point opportunities to be converted. This season, each of those numbers have jumped. The Hoyas are allowing 99.4 points per 100 possessions, an eFG% of 44.6 percent, and a 2PT FG% of 44.1 percent.
That is not to say those numbers are poor either. The Hoyas rank 31st and 49th in Effective FG% allowed and 2PT FG% allowed, and are 82nd in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. But even the slightest of tips of the scale have shifted the Hoyas downward.
In addition to a slight dip in defensive play, Georgetown has been struggling to find a go-to offensive player. While senior point guard Markel Starks has been solid, the absence of Otto Porter has hurt this team offensively. Even with that said, Starks has seen his play take a downturn as well. Last season, the Accokeek, Md. native averaged 12.8 points per game on 45.7 percent shooting.
This season, Starks' average is up, as he is now scoring 15.9 points per game. But, his efficiency is down, as he is shooting just 40.0 percent from the field. Furthermore, his eFG% and TS% have both taking dips, as he is now maintaining an eFG% of 46.6 percent and a TS% of 52.6, which compares unfavorably to his eFG% of 55.0 percent and TS% of 56.5 percent a season ago.
It might be stating the obvious that Doug McDermott will be a player to both be watched and to be accounted for. But, consider this: in 10 home games this season, the senior forward is fully taking advantage of his comfortable surroundings. He has scored 274 points inside CenturyLink Center Omaha, for an average of 27.4 points per home game this season. In addition, the frontrunner for National Player of the Year is shooting 94-181 inside the confines of his home arena, making good for a stellar 51.9 FG%. If we are to assume that trends will continue, Doug should continue to find success at his home venue on Saturday night.
Georgetown may be struggling this season, but one of its bright spots has been the play of D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. The sophomore shooting guard from Indianapolis, Ind. has been one of the Hoyas' most significant contributors this season, and most efficient. His TS% of 63.6 percent is 63rd amongst his peers around the country, and his eFG% of 58.3 is 135th. He has also been Georgetown's best 3-point shooter, sinking 42 of the 90 attempts he has taken from the 3-point arc on the season for a team-high 46.7 percent. Look for Smith-Rivera to be a player to watch from the perimeter this coming Saturday.
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The prolific Bluejays will return home where they are no doubt the talk of the town, and with five days rest there most likely will be some rust to wear off. While it is tough to imagine Georgetown losing four games in a row, in their current state they seem to be slip-sliding down the proverbial BIG EAST ladder. While I believe the Hoyas will give Creighton a tough defensive battle for much of the first half, the Bluejays should pull away and win comfortably.
Creighton 82 Georgetown 68