Creighton’s defense isn’t particularly strong. That’s common knowledge for any college hoops fan.
But, their offense? Perhaps the best in the game. Doug McDermott is arguably the best pure scorer in college basketball who can score from anywhere on the court, and they have a bevy of three-point shooters that can really fill it up. Between McDermott and his cohorts, Creighton is never out of a game.
At one point, they trailed 51-32 early in the second half, but there was never the feeling that the Blue Jays were out of it. A double-digit deficit for Creighton is like a two-possession game for most other teams.
Rob Dauster put it best:
One would think that a game like that would benefit Creighton every time, but not tonight.
While the porous defense will no doubt come back to bite Creighton at times, the potency of their offense cannot be ignored. Unfortunately tonight for Creighton, they spotted the Aztecs a 19 point second half lead and were unable to recover, losing 86-80. They cut it to a one-possession game on multiple occasions and actually had a chance to tie the game, but shot attempts from McDermott and Gibbs both were turned aside.
Doug McDermott led all scorers with 30 points, but the play of Xavier Thames for San Diego State was tremendous as he scored 26 points on just ten field goal attempts.
This was a big time victory for the Aztecs. They hung tough with Arizona in their second game of the season, but eventually lost 69-60. Their three other games came against a sub-D1 school, UC Riverside, and the College of Charleston — hardly world-beaters. The game against Creighton was a benchmark kind of game against a Top 25 team.
After taking the lead 31-28 late in the first half on a three-pointer from Thames, San Diego State did not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game. Creighton certainly made things very interesting in the latter part of the second half, but to keep them at bay and earn a victory is impressive. The Aztecs reaffirmed they will challenge for the Mountain West title, and may even be the front-runner at this point — although, New Mexico, Utah State, and Boise State would all have something to say about that.
San Diego State will now play Marquette in the championship game of The Wooden Legacy on Sunday.