Maurice Watson Jr.

OMAHA, NE - NOVEMBER 15: Maurice Watson Jr. #10 of the Creighton Bluejays drives to the hoop past Jordan Hill #11 of the Wisconsin Badgers during their game at the CenturyLink Center on November 15, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

No. 12 Creighton lands come-from-behind win over Ole Miss

Leave a comment

Marcus Foster scored 25 points and Khyri Thomas chipped in 16 points of his own as No. 12 Creighton landed a come-from-behind win over Ole Miss in the title game of the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, 86-77.

The Rebels were up by as many as 12 points in the second half before the Jays caught fire from deep – Creighton finished shooting 16-for-26 from beyond the arc – but the real difference came on the defensive end of the floor. The Bluejays finally started getting stops, and it’s not a coincidence that those stops came at the same time that they started clearing the defensive glass.

Ole Miss took a 46-40 lead into the break. With 15 minutes left in the game, a jumper from Cullen Neal gave Ole Miss a 59-51 lead. They mustered just 18 points the rest of the way. It’s also worth noting that Ole Miss grabbed 14 of their 17 offensive rebounds in the first 25 minutes; they finished with 20 second chance points.

The defense is going to be the key long-term for Creighton. This is easily the most athletic team that Greg McDermott has had in his time at Creighton – there’s probably an argument to be made that it’s the most talented as well, although that’s a different discussion for a different day – but what they have in shooting prowess and back court dominance they lack in true difference-makers defensively.

Deandre Burnett and Rasheed Brooks, who both had 22 points, are good basketball players – Burnett had 41 points in the opening game of this event – but they got anything they wanted in the first half on Monday night. It helped that they made seemingly all of the open shots that they got, and it also helped that Justin Patton, Zach Hanson and Toby Hegner looked helpless against Sebastian Saiz on the glass. Again, Saiz is a good player, but he should not have been able to dominate the glass like that against a team that’s many believe is a top 15-20 team in the country.

The Bluejays are going to score a lot of points this season. They have shooters everywhere on their roster, they have a group of guards that are as good as any in the country and they those guards thrive in transition and when their spacing creates driving lanes.

But their ceiling will be limited if they cannot get more consistent defensively.

On the other side, Ole Miss is a better basketball team than I thought they were. They may even be the second-best team in the SEC. Burnett is going to score a lot of points this season while Neal and Brooks seem like capable compliments in the back court. Throw in Saiz, who is as underrated as anyone in that conference, and this is a typically-good Andy Kennedy team.

Subscribe to the CBT Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or Audioboom

Creighton hoping transfers Watson, Huff can spark turnaround

Greg McDermott
Associated Press
Leave a comment

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) Even though Maurice Watson Jr. is yet to play his first game as Creighton’s new point guard, he doesn’t lack confidence.

Watson made that clear Wednesday at the Bluejays’ media day when he was asked to describe his playing style.

He said he’s a pass-first point guard who’ll keep his teammates happy. He was only warming up.

“I know the type of game we play with the 3-point shooters we have, teams are going to be forced to play me one-on-one, and I don’t think there is anybody who can guard me one-on-one, who can stop me from getting to the basket,” Watson said. “With my improved jump shot, I think I’ll be more efficient, and I’ll be knocking down way more jump shots. I do think I’ll be aggressive, mainly toward the middle to the end of games when it’s that time to take over.”

Coach Greg McDermott said he has no qualms with Watson’s strong sense of self.

“Sooner or later you’re going to have to back it up,” he said. “As long as he puts in the work to back up what he says, I can live with some of that.”

Watson and fellow transfer Cole Huff will need to play major roles if the Bluejays are going to bounce back from their first losing season since 1995-96. Creighton, which lost eight games in the final minute, was 14-19 and tied for ninth in the Big East at 4-14. The Bluejays were picked to finish ninth again in the Big East’s preseason coaches’ poll.

Forward Toby Hegner (6.7 ppg) is the only returning starter, guard James Milliken (9.6 ppg) played significant minutes and Geoffrey Groselle (5.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg) and Zach Hanson (3.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg) split time at center. Guard Isaiah Zierden (9.5 ppg), who shot nearly 40 percent on 3-pointers, is back after a knee injury ended his season in January.

Watson, who transferred from Boston University, takes over at the point for three-year starter Austin Chatman. Watson averaged 13.3 points, 7.1 assists and 2.1 steals while leading the Terriers to the NIT in 2013-14. Forward Cole Huff, who transferred from Nevada, averaged 12.4 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Wolf Pack.

“We’re more experienced than a lot of teams simply because Maurice and Cole played meaningful basketball and have been good players at their respective schools they transferred from,” McDermott said. “When you add two guys to the lineup that have played as many games as they’ve played, you probably aren’t getting a true reading of exactly what your returning experience is.”

Milliken said he’s excited to play with Watson and likes his cocksure demeanor.

What about Watson’s claim that he’s unstoppable one on one?

“Honestly, he’s tough,” Milliken said. “He’s really quick in changing directions. He’ll find a way to get around you, and he doesn’t miss layups. He might be accurate with that one.”

Former Boston University PG Maurice Watson Jr. commits to Creighton

Boston Univeristy v American
Leave a comment

After making the decision to leave the Boston University program, guard Maurice Watson Jr. became one of the most highly-regarded players on the transfer market. Sunday afternoon Watson announced via his Twitter account that he’s committed to Creighton and will finish out his college career at the Big East school.

Watson announced his decision after visiting Creighton this weekend.

Watson will have to sit out the 2014-15 season per NCAA transfer rules, and he’s an important addition given the fact that both Austin Chatman and Devin Brooks will be seniors next year. As a sophomore at BU Watson averaged 13.3 points and 7.1 assists per game, earning first team All-Patriot League honors.

Watson becomes the third member of Creighton’s 2014 recruiting class, with small forwards Ronnie Harrell and Leon Gilmore III having already signed a National Letter of Intent.