Earlier this week, Creighton handed Xavier its first home defeat of the season, while St. John's was beaten handily in Indianapolis against Butler. The last time these two teams met in Omaha on Jan. 28, Creighton earned their first conference win of the season, beating St. John's 77-74. In that game, St. John's shot just 58 percent from the foul line, ultimately leading to their demise. Here are three things to watch for in Saturday's game.
1. Interior offense
One key to success for the Bluejays last time against the Red Storm was penetrating the defense and getting to the basket, creating open shots out on the perimeter and challenging the bigs of St. John's. The Red Storm had just six blocks in the game, less than their season average. If the Jays are able to replicate that, they'll compete in what will be a tough environment under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. On the other hand, St. John's is not a team that lives behind the arc. For them to have success, they'll need to get to the basket and score on the inside. Creighton's strategy will center around forcing the Red Storm to take outside shots. Red Storm success will hinge on whether or not they can convert in an area where they're the best, in the paint.
These two teams seem headed in opposite directions. The Jays have won two of their last three games, while St. John's has lost three of their last four. Some Creighton shooters are finally finding their stroke. Bluejay senior Rick Kreklow hit five three-pointers in the win over Xavier on Wednesday. Meanwhile Red Storm guard D'Angelo Harrison has shot a paltry 29 percent (19 of 65) from the floor in the last five games. St. John's sits at just 3-6 in Big East play. and if they have aspirations of making the NCAA Tournament this season, beating Creighton at home and gaining momentum heading into March is a must.
3. Guard play
Even though he recently surpassed 2,000 points for his college career, Harrison has not shot it well as previously mentioned. On the reverse, neither has the Bluejays' Austin Chatman. The senior from The Colony, Texas, simply hasn't produced like many Creighton fans had hoped for this season. He has, however, shown some signs of improvement. Chatman shot 50 percent from the floor last time against St. John's while he converted 36 percent of his shots on Wednesday against Xavier, both games better than his season average. It's worth noting that Chatman had a rather forgettable performance against Georgetown last weekend when he went 1-for-7. The team that has the best guard play on Saturday probably wins the game.