Milwaukee, WI (SportsNetwork.com) - With sole possession of first place in the Big East Conference theirs, the 11th-ranked Creighton Bluejays will try to keep the good times rolling as they fly into the Bradley Center tonight to take on the Marquette Golden Eagles.
Creighton recently routed No. 9 Villanova (101-80) for the second time this season to improve to 21-4 overall and 11-2 in conference. The team has won two straight and six of its last seven games, and the win over the Wildcats was its 14th home victory against zero defeats this season. Following this bout, the Bluejays will play two of their remaining four regular-season tilts in Omaha.
Marquette is five games over .500 on the season (15-10), and it owns a favorable league ledger as well (7-5). The Golden Eagles ride a three-game win streak into this contest, with their most recent triumph coming in an 81-72 decision against visiting Xavier last Saturday. MU is an impressive 11-2 at home, winning its last three at the Bradley Center.
These two teams opened league play against each other back on New Year's Eve, with Creighton winning at home in a 67-49 final. Prior to that encounter, the last time the two met was during the 1998 NIT. Overall, Marquette leads the all-time series, which dates back to the 1922-23 campaign, by a 48-29 margin.
Creighton boasts the nation's top scorer in senior forward Doug McDermott. A 51.3 percent shooter, who is hitting 44.4 percent of his 3-point tries, while also converting 90.1 percent of his free throws (136-of-151) and pulling down 7.0 rpg. Ethan Wragge (11.0 ppg) is the only other player averaging double figures for the Bluejays, who are lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 80.8 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .495 overall, .422 from beyond the arc and .759 from the charity stripe. The team's defensive performance results in the opposition netting just 66.2 ppg, while the 'Jays check in on the plus side of things in both rebounding (+4.2) and turnovers (+0.4).
McDermott was once again a one-man wrecking crew for Creighton in its recent win over Villanova, going 13-of-17 from the floor, with four treys, and 9-of-9 at the foul line in scoring 39 points. Three others reached double figures for the Bluejays, who found the bottom of the net on a sizzling 64.2 percent of their field goal attempts, which included a 9-of-15 showing from long range. Creighton went an eye-popping 21-of-35 from distance in the first win over Villanova, with McDermott, who recently set a new Big East record by picking up his seventh conference Player of the Week award, combining with Wragge to go 14-of-22 from distance for a total of 50 points.
Marquette doesn't have a player with the star power of McDermott, but Davante Gardner and Jamil Wilson do their best to lead the team to victory, averaging 14.7 and 12.2 ppg, respectively. Gardner is also the club's top rebounder with 5.9 rpg, with Wilson hot on his heels with 5.4 rpg. As a team, the Golden Eagles produce 71.1 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .443 overall and .308 from 3-point land, while at the other end allowing 65.4 ppg, with foes connecting on 41.0 percent of their total shots, which includes a 34.9 percent effort from downtown. MU is in the black in both rebounding (+3.5) and turnovers (+1.6).
Jake Thomas was the star of the show in Marquette's recent win over Xavier, as he went 6-of-11 from 3-point range to finish with 18 points. Wilson and Gardner hit for 16 points apiece, while Todd Mayo chipped in with 13 points and six assists for the Golden Eagles, who made good on 46.2 percent of their total shots, including 9-of-18 3-point tries. An impressive 24-of-27 showing at the free-throw line also helped the cause, particularly in light of the fact that the Musketeers went 15-of-21 there. Both teams did well with regard to earning assists, combining for 33 of them, but Xavier committed 19 turnovers to only five for Marquette, allowing the Golden Eagles to outscore the visitors in that department, 27-9.