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Providence hosts #11 Creighton Saturday

The Friars and Bluejays meet for the first time this season

NCAA Basketball: Creighton at Providence Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The Providence Friars (7-3, 3-1) welcome the #11 Creighton Bluejays (7-2, 3-1) to Alumni Hall this Saturday at noon on FOX.

This game is projected to be a battle of two Big East heavyweights. In one corner is Big East Preseason Player of the Year Marcus Zegarowski. Creighton’s point guard has averaged 13.8 points per game this season while sitting at fourth in the Big East with 5 assists per game as well. Zegarowski is still working his way back from a meniscus injury that would have sidelined him from last season’s NCAA tournament.

In the other corner is Providence star and Big East Player of the Year candidate, David Duke. The junior has taken a massive jump this season. Duke sits at third in the Big East in points per game, averaging 19.9 per game with double-figures in every contest. Add on 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.0 steal per game, and Duke is making a case as the best all-around guard in the conference. Last time out, Duke set a career-high with 13 rebounds while also tallying 22 points and 8 assists against Butler.

Providence and Creighton split the series last season, with each team taking the home contest. Zegarowski got the upper hand in Omaha, as a Duke turnover turned into a Zegarowski game-winning three with just seconds left. Duke’s career-high 36 points were not enough for Providence in that one. The Friars would get revenge later in the season, with A.J. Reeves leading the way with 22 points in a 17-point victory.

Creighton enters this one as the number eleven team in the country. The Bluejays have a potent offense, ranked ninth in the country in efficiency per KenPom. All five starters average double-figures, and Zegarowksi, Mitch Ballock, and Denzel Mahoney all hit more than two 3-pointers per game. After dropping their first game of conference play at Marquette, the Bluejays have won three straight. Creighton won big over St. John’s before withstanding a 40-point performance from James Bouknight at UConn and slowing down a potent Xavier attack.

The Friars have won five out of six since stumbling out of the gate to start the season. Two of Providence’s three Big East wins can be attributed to the clutch shooting of A.J. Reeves. His late corner 3-pointer gave Providence the win at Seton Hall, while another late shot from deep forced overtime against DePaul. Reeves also added a steal late in the first overtime of that contest to send it to another frame. Duke and senior center Nate Watson have led the way for the Friars, combining for fifty-one percent of their points so far this season. Watson is fourth in the Big East with 19.0 points per game.