The Providence Friars and Creighton Bluejays are no strangers to playing each other on New Year’s Eve. And as 2018 comes to a close, the Friars and Jays will partake in the final Big East game of the calendar year.
The 10-3 Friars are set to do battle with the 9-4 Bluejays in an intriguing Big East tilt on New Year’s Eve 2018. The game will emanate from The Dunk in Friartown, where Ed Cooley’s team has lost just once this season (Dec. 7, when they lost to the UMass Minutemen). Creighton, meanwhile, is playing in just their third true road game of the year. The Bluejays will hope the third time’s the charm, because they’ve lost both road games they’ve played this season to the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Oklahoma Sooners.
Both teams come into this matchup riding short but sweet win streaks. Providence is winners of their last three while Creighton has won their last two. The last we saw the Friars, they scored a huge 71-65 win on the road against the Texas Longhorns. Creighton, meanwhile, barreled over the UMKC Kangaroos on December 27 at home.
This might not come as a surprise to you, but Creighton comes into this game having shot the 3-point ball very well lately. The No. 5 team in the nation in 3-point FG% has hit over 40 percent in four of their last five games. The one outlier is their 23.3 percent effort in their aforementioned loss to the Sooners. Creighton has hit over 40 percent from beyond the arc in 10 of their 13 games this season. It’s how the Jays have always done their business.
But they’re facing a Providence squad that has done a solid job at defending the perimeter this season. The Friars have given up 33.7 percent from behind the line, which is just a touch under the nation’s average. They held both the Longhorns and the Albany Great Danes to under 30 percent from 3-point land, and each team took 25 and 24 attempts respectively. The Friars are going to absolutely have to bring their A-Game and, to their credit, after a rough start, teams haven’t been shooting it well against them (with two mere exceptions in UMass and Central Connecticut) lately.
The stars for both Creighton and Providence will be the ones to watch as Ty-Shon Alexander and Alpha Diallo will likely set the pace for their respective clubs. Diallo has been superb over the last five games, hitting the 20-point threshold three times with a 21-point outburst against UMass being the high mark. He’s shot the ball well also, putting up marks of 40.9 percent from the floor.
Alexander, meanwhile, has been solid himself. He’s hit double figures in four of his last five games, with a nine-point effort coming against OU, falling just shy of that figure. He scored 19 points against UMKC and shot 7-for-13 from the field, an impressive showing to be sure. Alexander’s hit double figures in all but one game this season, as he’s been a tough one to stop. It is likely that he continues that trend as we go into 2019.
One player for Creighton who hopes to correct himself is Mitch Ballock. Ballock has scored a combined five points in his last 84 minutes of action. This included a zero-point outing against Oklahoma, and he didn’t even pick up a field goal attempt in his last game against UMKC, where he played 29 minutes. It is not as if he’s been like this all season, either. He just appears to be in a funk that he’ll hopefully snap out of as conference play begins.
Providence meanwhile could hope for Nate Watson to return to form. Watson has gone through some slight hiccups lately after a pretty stout start to the season. He’s scored just 10 points in his last 30 minutes of action and has gotten into foul trouble too, picking up seven fouls in those 30 minutes of game time. Watson had been producing at a very high level and with A.J. Reeves still out, they need somebody to give them that scoring punch. For their sake, Nate gets back to being great.
This is sure to be an excellent way to head into 2019. Providence and Creighton are two very evenly matched teams with go-to guys in Diallo and Alexander who can be extremely exciting to watch. I’m not certain who’s going to win, but I am certain that this will be a doozy to watch.
HOW TO WATCH
Time: 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT
Watch Online: Fox Sports Go