Creighton’s longest winning streak of the season began with a resounding triumph over St. John’s last month.
The No. 7 Bluejays can extend that run to six consecutive games with another victory over the visiting Red Storm during a Big East matchup on Saturday in Omaha, Neb.
A league-favorite, Creighton (9-2, 5-1 in Big East) opened the conference slate with an 89-84 home loss to Marquette on Dec. 14. Since then, the Bluejays have won five in a row and are coming off their most dominant performance of the campaign — an 89-53 thrashing of Seton Hall on Wednesday.
Damien Jefferson (12.1 points per game) had a season-high 19 points as Creighton, which won its previous three games by a combined nine points, shot a season-best 59.6 percent and yielded its fewest points of the season. The Bluejays, meanwhile, are holding opponents to an average of 65.8 points and 36.8-percent shooting during their five-game winning streak.
“Defensively, we were as connected as I’ve seen a team in a long time,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said following Wednesday’s contest.
“Really proud of our team … These guys have bought into (being a good defensive team).”
The Bluejays played well enough defensively to take down St. John’s (6-5, 1-4 in Big East), 94-76, to begin their current winning streak. The Red Storm were held to 44.8 percent shooting but made 10 3-pointers. However, Creighton shot 56.7 percent, hit 13 3s and outrebounded St. John’s 44-26.
Star Marcus Zegarowski (14.1 ppg) hit six 3-pointers to finish with 20 points, while Denzel Mahoney (13.8 ppg) scored 16 and Christian Bishop (11.7 ppg) and Jefferson (12.1 ppg) each posted double-doubles for Creighton, which has won two of the last three meetings with St. John’s.
Playing their first game since Dec. 20 due to COVID-19 issues inside and out of the program, the Red Storm fell 69-61 at Xavier on Wednesday. Rasheem Dunn had a season-high 17 points and Julian Champagnie scored 15 for St. John’s, which shot 35.8 percent, committed 16 turnovers and allowed the Musketeers, who shot 37.5 percent, to score 17 of the game’s 18 points during a key, second-half stretch to break up a game the visitors led by four with less than 10 minutes to play in regulation.
It was the fourth loss in five games for the somewhat rusty Red Storm, who went 5-1 during nonconference play. They’ve also lost seven straight and 14 of their last 15 road contests within the Big East.
“It’s all challenges,” St. John’s coach Mike Anderson told the New York Post. “Every day is a challenge.
“We were right (there) and we had one of those lulls where we couldn’t score … We were right there in the game, and it just wasn’t lined up for us (on Wednesday).”
Champagnie, one of the Big East’s top scorers at 19.7 points per game, had a team-high 17 against Creighton last month. Dunn finished with 10 points in that contest for the Red Storm.
–Field Level Media