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


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.

No. 10 Gonzaga outlasts No. 18 UConn despite late offensive struggles

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No. 10 Gonzaga survived a furious rally from No. 18 UConn to win the third place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis, 73-70.

The Zags were up by as much as 21 points early in the second half, leading 48-27, but UConn slowly chipped away at the lead. Kyle Wiltjer led four players in double-figures with 17 points while Eric McClellan added 15 points, making a number of key plays in the second half when it looked like the Zags were in danger of giving away the lead.

As good as Gonzaga looked in the first 22 minutes of this game — and they looked really, really good — the second half exposed the concerns that many had with this group entering the season. Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., who both shot around 40 percent from beyond the arc and started for four years, graduated, meaning that Gonzaga’s point guard situation is, more or less, Josh Perkins.

Perkins was terrific in the second half of a loss to Texas A&M on Thursday. He played 17 foul-plagued minutes against UConn. When UConn’s defense ratcheted up during the second half, Gonzaga struggled finding a way to consistently get good shots on the offensive end. Part of that was due to ineffective point guard play and part of it was a result of not really having anyone on the offensive end that can create a look on their own. As skilled as Wiltjer is, his impact can be limited when pick-and-pop actions aren’t working and he’s getting doubled in the post.

Perkins is talented, but this is essentially his first season of college basketball; he was a medical redshirt last season after breaking his jaw last November. There are going to be ups-and-downs, and that’s problematic on a team where he is essentially the only point guard on the roster.

The good news?

Gonzaga beat a good UConn team on a day when their best players struggled in crunch-time. It was McClellan and Kyle Dranginis that made the big plays down the stretch, not the big names on the Gonzaga roster.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady ‘awake, alert’ after getting stretchered off court

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Wichita State big man Anton Grady was stretchered off of the floor in the second half of a loss to Alabama after a nasty collision with Dazon Ingram.

The video can be seen above. There was nothing malicious about the way that Grady was injured. When he turned to run up the floor after missing a shot in the lane, he went face first into Ingram’s shoulder. He neck bent in an awkward directions and, after stumbling a few steps, he laid motionless on the floor.

It took 10 minutes for the training staff to strap Grady to a backboard and wheel him out of the arena.

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A Wichita State spokesman told that Grady was taken to a local trauma center for evaluation and that he is “awake, alert and is answering questions appropriately”.

We will have more updates as they come available.

From a basketball perspective, the No. 20 Shockers lost their second game in a row and are now 2-3 on the season.

While for some the Shockers’ résumé is up for questioning following losses to USC and Alabama, two teams projected to finish in the bottom half of their respective leagues, the team’s health is the biggest concern.

Fred VanVleet has been dealing with a hamstring issue since the season began, and an ankle injury limited him in a loss at Tulsa earlier this month. He won’t play again until at least Dec. 5th. and who knows when he’ll be back to full strength. The same can be said for back up point guard and freshman Landry Shamet, who underwent surgery to address a stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. Their injuries have led to even more being asked of senior guard Ron Baker, and the loss of Grady for any significant amount of time certainly isn’t going to help matters..

These early-season losses won’t help Wichita State when it comes to the NCAA tournament, but it’s important to make note of the circumstances surrounding those defeats. To be shorthanded, with one of the absent players ranking among the nation’s best point guards, has an impact that has to be accounted for when evaluating Wichita State. The Shockers will add Conner Frankamp in mid-December, which will help them on the perimeter.

But with their rotation currently being in flux, it’s tough to make any definitive statements on what Wichita State will have to do in order to make another trip to the NCAA tournament. At this point Gregg Marshall and his staff will look for other contributors, one of whom being Markis McDuffie (14 points, seven rebounds vs. Alabama), to emerge and show themselves capable of picking up the slack.