No. 14 Creighton is the nation’s best offensive team from an efficiency standpoint, with the presence of the clear favorite to win every major national Player of the Year award (Doug McDermott) being surrounded by multiple players capable of making teams pay for devoting too much attention to McDermott.
With McDermott being as gifted as he is, it’s almost a given that the senior forward is going to score his points. The key is to keep the supporting cast in check, and Providence was able to do so in their 65-58 win Saturday night.
McDermott finished the game with 27 points, scoring 18 in the second half to nearly lead the Bluejays back from a 12-point second half deficit. But just one other Bluejay finished with more than five points, with Avery Dingman scoring ten points on 5-for-5 shooting.
Having two players in double figures isn’t startling for Creighton, as this has been the case all season long with Ethan Wragge (10.5 ppg) being the other double-digit scorer. However when the Bluejays are at their best offensively, and nearly unguardable as a result, multiple players are making plays. That didn’t happen against Providence, with the Friars using a 2-3 zone against one of the nation’s best shooting teams and having success for much of the night.
Providence made good rotations in its zone and identified shooters, challenging perimeter shots and limiting a Creighton team that entered the game shooting 42.1% from beyond the arc to 8-for-30 shooting. McDermott was responsible for five of those makes, with Wragge and Jahenns Manigat combining to shoot 2-for-13. The three-pointer is an important shot for Creighton, which scores more than 39% of its points from beyond the arc. Providence was able to limit the Bluejays in this department, one reason why they were able to win the game.
That will be the key for Creighton moving forward, and the sight of teams less familiar with them may help matters. McDermott’s going to score, and he’s clearly capable of putting Creighton on his back and carrying the Bluejays. But if Creighton is to entertain thoughts of winning a national title, his supporting cast will be just as important.