mcdermotts

Elite offense makes No. 11 Creighton a threat to go deep into March

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Just three days removed from their emphatic home win over then-No. 6 Villanova, No. 11 Creighton encountered a different test in their game at Marquette. Unlike Villanova the Golden Eagles are one of the many teams across the country looking to fight their way into the NCAA tournament, and a win over the Bluejays would do wonders for Marquette’s resume.

But like the other teams that have faced Creighton this season Marquette had to figure out how to best defend the Bluejays, and they had an incredibly hard time coming up with a suitable answer. Creighton shot 62.2% from the field and 52.2% from beyond the arc, beating Marquette 85-70 in Milwaukee. The problem in defending Creighton: even with all of the attention heaped upon Doug McDermott, he isn’t the only player capable of hurting teams, and that was the case in the first half.

With Marquette limiting McDermott to just four shot attempts Ethan Wragge, who was quiet on Sunday night, scored 12 of his 22 points in the first half. And if that weren’t enough Jahenns Maingat and Devin Brooks added nine and eight points, respectively. Greg McDermott’s team does a very good job of attacking teams offensively, with their ball and player movement resulting in a quality look more times than not.

And in the second half Doug McDermott got going, scoring 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting with Wragge and Austin Chatman scoring ten apiece. How good of a job did Creighton do sharing the basketball? Twenty-one of their 28 made field goals were assisted, with seven players finishing the game with at least two assists. Marquette was able to make a run in the second half, shooting 50% from the field, but they left some points at the foul line and ultimately were unable to do enough to slow down Creighton.

When discussing Creighton’s chances of making a deep run in the NCAA tournament more than a few skeptics point out their defensive performance, and the Bluejays do need to get better on that end of the floor. But this is also the nation’s best offensive team, and the multiple options at Greg McDermott’s disposal make Creighton an incredibly difficult matchup for most teams. With March being about match-ups, that edge should serve Creighton well next month.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: