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.