Derrick Marks, Austin Chatman

Did the same old No. 11 Creighton make their reappearance?

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Creighton was one of the best offensive teams in the country a season ago, finishing fifth nationally in offensive efficiency according to Kenpom.

Their problem was on the defensive end of the floor, ranking as the 178th best team. Namely, the Bluejays were the third-worst team in the country at forcing turnovers and were in the bottom-half nationally in effective field goal percentage, which is essentially a nerdy way of saying teams shot the ball really well against the Bluejays all season long.

This season was supposed to be different, and while no one was going to confuse the Bluejays with Louisville, there did appear to be an improvement through the season’s first six games. Creighton was 67th in defensive efficiency coming in. Small sample size, yes, but anyone watching Creighton play could see an improvement. Penetration was tougher, help side was quicker, shots were challenged. Things just didn’t look as simple for opponents.

That’s a good thing.

But it was a trend that ended on Wednesday night, as Boise State left Omaha with Leon Rice’s first win over a ranked team as head coach. Boise State shot 60.7% from the floor and 10-19 for three in an 83-70 upset of the Bluejays, scoring 1.277 PPP for the game.

That’s … well, it’s not good.

The problem is that Creighton was never able to get back into the game. Boise State opened up a double-digit lead early in the second half and the Bluejays simply couldn’t string together enough stops to make a serious run. The only time they did get three stops in a row, Creighton went on an 8-0 spurt in the span of about a minute, cutting the Bronco’s lead from 75-70.

I don’t need to tell you that Creighton cannot win basketball games this way. Creighton fans certainly know that. The team absolutely does. They wore shirts with their defensive ranking from last season on it throughout the preseason. The Missouri Valley has looked strong early on this season. Wichita State won at VCU. Northern Iowa was impressive in their losses out in the Bahamas. Illinois State and Indiana State both have some quality pieces on their roster.

And most importantly, all of those teams are willing and able to muck-it-up defensively. If Creighton can’t iron out these kinks on the defensive end, they’re going to have a tough time trying to bring home the league title.

The one thing I’m almost certain of here: I don’t think that practice is going to be very enjoyable for the Bluejays on Thursday after this performance.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the performance of Derrick Marks. 35 points. 13-19 from the floor. A bucket any time he wanted one. Throw in Anthony Drmic and Jeff Elorriaga, and you’ve got a pretty solid perimeter trio. The Broncos won’t compete for the Mountain West title this season — they may not even finish in the top half — but they’ll be a tough win on a nightly basis.

It’s also worth noting the value of this win for the MWC as a whole. Creighton is going to end up being highly ranked with a good RPI. And Boise State just beat them in Omaha. That’ll be a nice bump.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Duke, Cincinnati lead Hall of Fame Tip-Off

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski gestures during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Florida State in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) Duke and Cincinnati, 2016 NCAA Tournament teams, highlight the eight-team field for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.

The participants for the Nov. 19-20 event were announced Wednesday.

Also in the field are Rhode Island, Penn State, Grand Canyon, Albany, Marist and Brown.

The teams, split into two four-team brackets, will play two doubleheaders at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Duke, Cincinnati, Penn State and Rhode Island will meet in the Naismith Bracket, while the others will play in the Springfield Bracket.

The teams will play two early round games at campus sites from Nov. 11 through Nov. 16.

Brandone Francis-Ramirez transferring out of Florida

Florida State center Jean Marc Christ Koumadje (21) fouls Florida guard Brandone Francis-Ramirez (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, in Gainesville, Fla. (Matt Stamey, The Gainesville Sun via AP)
(Matt Stamey, The Gainesville Sun via AP)
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Brandone Francis-Ramirez is transferring out of the Florida program, the school announced on Wednesday.

A former top 40 recruit, Francis-Ramirez had his two seasons in Gainesville ruined by an academic issues and a loss of confidence. He was academically ineligible in 2014-15, practicing with the team during the second semester. He was granted a redshirt for the year, but he struggled to find any kind of a rhythm this past season. There was a two-month stretch in the middle of the year where he shot 6-for-58 from the floor and 2-for-31 from three.

On the season, he shot 20.2 percent from the floor and 16.9 percent from three.

“I want it to work out for him,” Gators coach Mike White said in a release. “We really appreciate what Brandone did here and wish him the best.”

One of Villanova’s title game stars undergoes knee surgery

Phil Booth, Jack McVeigh
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The forgotten star of the national title game underwent an arthroscopic on his left knee on Wednesday.

Phil Booth, who scored a season-high 20 points in the 2016 National Title game, will be a junior next season and one of the guys called upon to help replace Ryan Arcidiacono, who graduated. He should be ready to go by the middle of the summer; according to a statement put out by the program, Booth will need 6-to-8 weeks to heal.

“Phil is as mentally tough a young man as we have had at Villanova,” head coach Jay Wright said in the release. “He continually impresses our coaching staff with his outstanding attitude. Phil will attack this recovery challenge with great determination, as he does everything in life.”

Booth averaged 7.0 points and 2.2 assists this past season.

Jennings becomes seventh player to transfer from Kentucky

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell watches his team during the team's regional semifinal in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament against Washington in Lexington, Ky., Friday, March 25, 2016. Washington won 85-72. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has announced that sophomore forward Alexis Jennings will transfer, the seventh Wildcat to leave the program since last fall.

Jennings’ departure comes a week after Mitchell publicly addressed the mass exodus of players and assistant coaches and stressed the need for building stability. Jennings figured to be part of that process and the coach said in a release Wednesday night that “it saddens us that Alexis did not see a path for her at Kentucky. … She felt it was in her best interest to finish her career elsewhere and we owe her that opportunity.”

The 6-foot-2 Jennings started 18 of 33 games last season and averaged 10 points and 7.1 rebounds.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.