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January 25, 2014

Blue Jays are tough job today

January 25, 2014 - Tonight at 8p EST, Georgetown takes on Creighton in Omaha, Nebraska, truly a challenge. Not only must the Hoyas continue to adjust to roster reductions, but deal with a deadly shooting Blue Jay crew.

"They are an outstanding offensive team" said head coach John Thompson III yesterday, also labeling Creighton defense "underrated". Returning to putting the ball in the hole, Thompson, in his tenth season at G'Town noted "their spacing is terrific, they put five guys on the floor that can shoot. They have two guys on the court that are great shooters, and they have one guy on the court that's the best player in the country".

That last guy would be senior forward Doug McDermott, contributor of 24.8 ppg - team and BIG EAST leading - along with 7.1 rebounds. McDermott, son of Creighton head coach Greg, is on the short list when discussing player of the year candidates nationally.

The other player mentioned above by Thompson was senior forward Ethan Wragge, a 12.5 ppg guy that's deadly from beyond the arc. Creighton, 16-3 overall and a BIG EAST leading 6-1 shoots 49.5% from the field, sinks 43.6% of three pointers and scores 82.6 point each time out, all league leading numbers. Corroborating Thompson's view of them defensively, the Blue Jays are second in conference, holding foes to just 66 points per game.

A look at Creighton's last game, a 96-68 blowout of then top five nationally Villanova, bears out the numbers; According to BlueJayCafe.com senior editor Matt Perrault, "Creighton set a BIG EAST record for 3-point shots in a game vs. Villanova with 21 last time out. Ethan Wragge tied a school record with 9 made 3's. Creighton was up by 40 at one point against 'Nova".

The Hoyas are paced by its backcourt of senior Markel Starks and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, a duo accounting for 46.3% of G'Town's points, a combined 33.4 each time out. They also contribute 7.1 rebounds, seven rebounds and 2.2 steals per game.

Georgetown (11-7, 3-4) has lost four of the last five, largely aided by a roster depleted of junior center Joshua Smith and his classmate, swingman Jabril Trawick. It was recently announced Smith is academically ineligible for the rest of the year, while Trawick's return from a broken jaw is unknown.

How the Hoyas handle a surging Creighton team, buoyed by its Century Link Center home court advantage - as Perrault said "When 18,000 people are on top of you, drinking beer, at night, the Century Link Center is as tough a place to play as anywhere in the country" - is certainly a subplot. Add whether G'Town can defend the three point line (a recent problem) and rebound (always a challenge, though junior forward Mikael Hopkins leads the team with 5.9 per game, logging 15 versus Seton Hall).

To hear Thompson and Hopkins discuss those and other topics, see Premium Court. Also there is Perrault, providing points of interest from a Creighton slant.

FoxSports 1 is televising the matchup, again at 8p EST tonight. Sports Talk 570 AM, with Rich Chvotkin on the microphone, will have radio duties. Click here for our real time, in-game chat.

Note:

Adding to the crowd's fury will be excitement for Pink Out; nationally coaching staffs are wearing tennis shoes in support of the Coaches vs. Cancer movement. Both G'Town and Creighton are targeting their efforts specifically to breast cancer tonight. Thompson's wife is joined by McDermott's in having encountered the disease.

"Coach McDermott's wife and my wife, Monica, were actually fighting the battle around the same time", shared Thompson. "That's how I got to know him. We'd call each other up and say 'Hey, how you doing?'

"And so our guys are wearing the pink shoes, pink and blue shoes they wore the other day. The coaching staff is going to wear pink".


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