Another virtuoso performance by Maurice Watson helped Creighton keep the wins coming on Saturday, as the Bluejays put a 82-67 beatdown on host Seton Hall at the Prudential Center.
Fresh off a 27-point outing against Georgetown, Watson controlled the game from start to finish, scoring 13 points, but more importantly, handing out 14 assists. To put that in perspective, Seton Hall had eight as a team.
Watson's ability to lead the offense helped keep everyone happy for Greg McDermott's squad, as the Bluejays shot 45.3 percent from the floor, including a 8-for-19 showing from 3-point range. Geoffrey Groselle continued his efficient as all heck season, finishing on 7-of-8 from the floor for a game-high 20 points. Meanwhile, Isaiah Zierden added in 16 points for the Bluejays, who have won five of their last six.
Seton Hall, which led 22-17 midway through the first half, was frustrated by poor free-throw shooting (again) and bad defense, plain and simple. The Pirates went just 15-for-28 at the foul line, failing to take advantage of a number of potential momentum-swinging freebies.
Perhaps the most troubling development was the absence of Isaiah Whitehead and Desi Rodriguez in the second half. Even as the Pirates tried desperately to dig themselves out of a big second-half hole, Kevin Willard kept two of his best players on the bench. No word on what the reasoning was, but if there is some turmoil brewing, that is bad news for a Seton Hall team trying to buck a trend of disappointing second half finishes.
Khadeen Carrington led the way in scoring for the Pirates with 17 points, while Angel Delgado had eight. Whitehead tapped in 10, but got in foul trouble and was benched. Derrick Gordon tagged on 14 off the bench and really stepped up in place of Whitehead and Rodriguez.
Here's a deeper dive into what we learned from this one.
Creighton's offense ain't messin' around
With Watson putting together a hot streak that would make Kris Dunn jealous, the Bluejays offense is clearly firing on all cylinders. Watson dominates the ball for the team, but that isn't a bad thing as he thrives off the pick-and-roll and is excellent at driving and kicking. Shooters on the outside are quick to make the extra pass and the folks down low, Groselle especially, fill the lane nicely and finish at the rim.
The offensive showing from Creighton, which was the 11th-highest scoring team in the country entering play (84.5 PPG), against Seton Hall was nothing short of breathtaking. The Bluejays took smart shots from long range but did not fall in love with the 3-point line alone, outscoring Seton Hall 42-30 in the paint. Slowing down the Jays is not a task for the light of heart.
Same ol' Seton Hall
You have to wonder just how long this routine can keep playing out for Seton Hall. The Pirates were 12-2 through the first 14 games of the season, once again giving hope to the folks of South Orange. But back-to-back losses have the doubts creeping, nay, storming back. Seton Hall started 12-2, 10-4 and 12-2 in the first 14 games of the previous three seasons only to finish 15-18, 17-17 and 16-15, respectively.
A major reason for the downfall last year was a storm of turmoil centered on Isaiah Whitehead and former Pirate Sterling Gibbs. While it remains uncertain why exactly Whitehead sat out most of the second half on Saturday, after all, the Pirates were down a ton and he was in foul trouble, it is not a great sign for the future.
Another shaky effort at the free-throw line did nothing to help Seton Hall's chance against the Jays. For a team that lacks many knockdown shooters, the Pirates are a team that has to make a living on driving into the lane and putting up shots with the hope of drawing contact. They are rather good at that, as their 28 foul shots on Saturday can attest to. However, continually letting free points clang off the rim makes the wild drives by Rodriguez, Carrington, Whitehead and others seem less and less dangerous for opposing teams. Prior to the matchup with Creighton, Seton Hall was leading the Big East in foul shots in conference play (80) but only eighth in free-throw percentage (.688).