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Men’s Basketball Meets No. 11 Providence Friday in BIG EAST Semifinals

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Men’s Basketball Meets No. 11 Providence Friday in BIG EAST Semifinals

Game #32:  #11 Providence vs. Creighton Bluejays

Friday,  March 11, 2022 • 5:30 p.m. CST

Madison Square Garden (19,812) • New York City, N.Y.

Radio: KOZN 1620 AM; 1620thezone.com;  XM 206; SiriusXM app 969; Westwood One

Television: FS1 (Gus Johnson, Jim Jackson, Kristina Pink)

Series History: Providence leads, 18-12

Last Meeting: #11 Providence 72, Creighton 51 on 2/26/22 in Providence, R.I.


Next Game

Fourth-seeded Creighton (21-10, 12-7 BIG EAST) continues play at the BIG EAST Tournament, presented by JEEP, on Friday, March 11 when it faces regular-season champion, top-seeded and No. 11 Providence (25-4, 14-3 BIG EAST).

    Tip-off in New York City, N.Y., at the “World’s Most Famous Arena”, Madison Square Garden (19,812), is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Central.

Radio Broadcast Information

KOZN (1620 AM) will broadcast all Creighton men’s basketball games during the 2021-22 season. KOOO (101.9 FM) also broadcasts all home games.

    John Bishop and former Bluejay Ross Ferrarini will call the action.

    The audio is also webcast live at www.1620thezone.com and can be heard on channel 969 of the Sirius/XM app or XM channel 206.

    Westwood One will also carry the game on regular radio stations across the country, on Westwood One Channels via the TuneIn mobile app, streamed online at WestwoodOneSports.com and on SiriusXM satellite radio on Sirius 138 and XM 206.  Scott Graham and Austin Croshere will call the action.

Broadcast Information

Friday’s game will be called by Gus Johnson, Jim Jackson and Kristina Pink and be televised on FS1.

    The game will also be video webcast online at http://foxsports.com/live or the FoxSports app.

Live Stats Information

All of Creighton’s games this season will have free live stats. Visit www.gocreighton.com and click on the small bar graph icon on the scoreboard at the top of the page for the event of your choosing.

    Home games can also be followed by those who have mobile devices with internet capability at www.gocreightonstats.com.

Scouting Creighton

Picked to finish eighth in the preseason BIG EAST poll, Creighton has won eight of its last 10 games to improve to 21-10 overall and wrap up a fourth place finish (12-7) in the BIG EAST.

    The Bluejays owns four top-25 wins this season, having defeated No. 9 Villanova (79-59), No. 17 UConn (59-55), No. 18 UConn (64-62) and No. 24 BYU (83-71), and are 4-1 on neutral floors this year.

    The Bluejays return seven lettermen but no starters from last year’s team that finished 22-9 overall, runner-up in the BIG EAST, and reached the program’s first Sweet 16 since 1974.

    Creighton has four players averaging at least 11.3 points per game, including the trio of Ryan Hawkins (14.5 ppg., 7.7 rpg.), Ryan Nembhard (11.3 ppg., 4.4 apg.) and Ryan Kalkbrenner (12.7 ppg., 7.5 rpg., 2.6 bpg.). Nembhard was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Year despite suffering a wrist injury on Feb. 23 that will sideline him for the rest of the year.

    Alex O’Connell (11.4 ppg., 5.5 rpg.) had 27 points in a Valentine’s Day win vs. Georgetown, his third game in the last month of 22 points or more.

    More than 38 percent of Creighton’s points this season have come from freshmen, who composed much of the team’s top-10 recruiting class.

    Creighton averages 69.2 points per game while allowing 66.6 per game. CU shoots 45.2 percent from the floor, 31.2 percent from deep and 72.6 percent at the line. CU is  +2.9 on the glass but have also turned the ball over 14.3 times per game.


Scouting #11 Providence

Ranked No. 11 in the Associated Press poll, Providence owns a 25-4 record after clinching its first regular-season BIG EAST crown on Feb. 26 with a 72-51 win vs. Creighton.

    The Friars own six Quad 1 wins and claim victories at Wisconsin and UConn as well as home wins vs. Texas Tech and Seton Hall, among others.

    PC’s lone losses have come to Virginia, Marquette and Villanova (2x).

    Second Team All-BIG EAST pick Nate Watson leads the Friars with 14.1 points per game while making 56.4 percent of his shot attempts. In addition, Indiana transfer Al Durham averages 13.1 points and 3.3 assists per game after scoring more than 1,000 points at Indiana.

    Jared Bynum (13.90 ppg.) has been on a scoring binge of late and Noah Horchler (9.9 ppg., 8.4 rpg.) and A.J. Reeves (10.1 ppg.) are the top two perimeter threats for the Friars.

    As a team, Providence averages 72.3 points per game while allowing 66.4 per contest. The Friars shoot 44.3 percent from the floor, 72.8 percent at the line and 35.1 percent behind the arc.

The Series With Providence

Providence leads the all-time series, 18-12 but the teams have split four neutral site match-ups. Since Creighton joined PC in the BIG EAST in 2013, the Friars have won 12-of-20 contests at all sites.

    PC owns a 2-1 lead in BIG EAST Tournament match-ups, defeating CU in the 2014 final and in overtime at the 2018 quarterfinal. Creighton beat PC in the 2017 quarterfinal.

    Creighton’s last three wins in the series have come by a combined 12 points, including last year’s last-second dunk by Christian Bishop to give CU a 67-65 win at Alumni Gym.

    Greg McDermott is 8-12 in his career against Providence and Ed Cooley. Cooley is 12-9 in his career against Creighton, having also lost a CIT game when he was head coach at Fairfield.

Previously vs. Providence

Creighton’s home game vs. Providence scheduled for January 11th was not played after COVID-19 issues within the Friars program led to the postponement of the contest. The game was never made up.

    Providence defeated Creighton on Feb. 26 in Rhode Island to clinch the program’s first BIG EAST regular-season title in history. A.J. Reeves made seven three-pointers and scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Friars, while Ryan Kalkbrenner paced the Bluejays with 13 points.

The Creighton Coaches

Greg McDermott (Northern Iowa, 1988) owns a 274-135 record in his 12th season with the Bluejays. He owns a career mark of 554-330 in his 28th season, and is 423-266 in his 21st Division I campaign.

    McDermott led Creighton to its first BIG EAST regular-season title in 2019-20, taking a Bluejay team that was picked seventh in the league’s preseason poll and ending the year ranked seventh nationally. The Cascade, Iowa native then coached Creighton to its first Sweet 16 since 1974 in 2020-21 and to a share of its first regular-season BIG EAST title in 2019-20.

    McDermott has previously been a head coach at Iowa State (2006-10), Northern Iowa (2001-06), North Dakota State (2000-01) and Wayne State (1994-2000).

    He is assisted by Alan Huss, Ryan Miller and Jalen Courtney-Williams.

With A Win…

– Creighton would advance to Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. Central final against either Villanova or Seton Hall/UConn in a game that will air on FOX and KOZN (1620 AM).

– Creighton would improve to 2-2 all-time at the BIG EAST Tournament against Providence.

– Teams with Ryan Hawkins would improve to 181-18 at the college level, and 42-1 at neutral sites.

– Creighton would improve to 9-7 all-time at the BIG EAST Tournament, including a 4-0 mark in the semifinals.

– Improve to 2-1 all-time at the BIG EAST Tournament as a No. 4 seed, and 8-7 all-time in conference tournament action as a No. 4 seed (including the MVC Tournament).

– Improve to 1-1 all-time at the BIG EAST Tournament against No. 1 seeds. Creighton’s last win over a top seed in a conference tournament came in 2007 when it defeated Southern Illinois in the Missouri Valley Conference title tilt. That Saluki team, like Providence, was ranked 11th in the nation.

Greg McDermott would win his 275th game as Creighton head coach.

– Creighton would improve to 5-5 vs. top-25 teams this season and beat its first No. 1 seed since 2007.

Conference Tournament History

Creighton is 8-7 all-time in its eighth appearance at the BIG EAST Tournament, which includes trips to the finals in 2014, 2017 and 2021. That doesn’t include the 2020 trip that was halted at halftime of the quarterfinal round game vs. St. John’s.

    Since joining the BIG EAST, Creighton is 1-0 in the opening round, 4-4 in the quarterfinals, 3-0 in the semifinals and 0-3 in championship games.

    Creighton won its first BIG EAST Tournament semifinal 86-78 vs. Xavier and by three points in both 2017 (75-72 vs. Xavier) and in 2021 vs. UConn (59-56).

    Including 2022, Creighton has won at least one conference tournament game in eight of the last 11 seasons (which includes three trips to the MVC Tournament). That’s tied with Villanova for the most of any current league school.

    Greg McDermott owns 15 wins in conference tournaments at Creighton. The only active BIG EAST men’s basketball coach with more league tournament wins is Villanova’s Jay Wright.

    Creighton also enjoyed a highly-successful run at the MVC Tournament in the previous three decades. The Bluejays owned a 43-20 all-time record in MVC Tournament play. Creighton’s 12 MVC Tournament titles were seven more than any other school, while its 43 wins and .683 winning percentage in league tourney action also remain tops in event history.

    Creighton was 19-12 in the quarterfinals, 12-7 in the semifinals and 12-1 in the championship games as a Valley member. Creighton won the MVC Tournament nine of the last 13 times it won its first game in the event.

    Creighton won its MVC Tournament titles in 1977, 1981, 1989, 1991, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2012 and 2013.

Eight Tourney Titles Since 1999

Creighton owns eight league tournament titles since 1999. On a national basis, the only schools that can claim this (entering this March) are Gonzaga (18),  Duke (12), Winthrop (12), Kentucky (10), New Mexico State (10), Kansas (9), Iona (9), Belmont (8), Creighton (8), Montana (8), Murray State (8) and Utah State (8).

    Creighton has appeared in three title games since the reconfiguration of the BIG EAST in the summer of 2013. That trails only Villanova (5), and one more than Providence (2) and Seton Hall (2). Xavier and Georgetown have advanced to one final apiece.

Random League Tournament Facts

-Creighton has won 13 of its last 15 conference tournament games decided by four points or less.

-Creighton is 10-6 in its last 16 conference tournament games when playing an opponent with a better seed than the Bluejays.

-The top two seeds haven’t met in a BIG EAST final since 2004.

-Creighton went 4-2 in its final six conference games this year. It’s the 12th time CU has been exactly 4-2 in its final six league games, and it usually precedes great success. In the previous 11 occurrences, Creighton has won the league tournament eight times, lost in the final twice and went 1-1 once.

-The last No. 4 seed to win the BIG EAST Tournament was Providence (against Creighton) in 2014.

-Creighton is 7-7 all-time in eight previous conference tournament appearances as a No. 4 seed, including one title, and 1-1 as a No. 4 seed in BIG EAST Tournament play. CU won the 2000 MVC Tournament as a No. 4 seed, with current assistant coach Alan Huss the starting center on that club.

Creighton As the #4 Seed (7-7)

    Year    League    Record

    1979    MVC    0-1

    1984    MVC    2-1

    2000    MVC    3-0

    2004    MVC    0-1

    2006    MVC    0-1

    2008    MVC    1-1

    2010    MVC    0-1

    2018    BIG EAST    0-1

    2022    BIG EAST    1-0 so far

To Foul Or Not To Foul

Providence has made 454 free throws this season, with 21.7 percent of its 2,096 points coming from the charity stripe.

    For Al Durham, it’s even more pronounced, as 43.9 percent (155 of 353) of the senior’s points have come at the line.

    On the other side, Creighton opponents have made just 283 free throws all season (9.1 per game) and accounted for just 13.7 percent of the points scored against the Bluejays.

    Creighton has committed just 13.3 fouls per contest, a figure that ranks 13th-fewest nationally.

    Per BartTorvik.com (at 8:20 pm Central on 3/10), Providence ranks 13th nationally in Free Throw Rate (FT/FGA) at 38.7 percent, compared to Creighton’s No. 297 ranking at 26.0 percent. Defensively, Creighton’s 19.8 percent figure in defensive free throw rate ranks third-best nationally.


– Creighton is 16-0 this season and has won 24 straight games when holding foes under 40 percent shooting from the field. The Jays held Marquette to 39.7 percent marksmanship on Thursday and lead the BIG EAST in field goal percentage defense (.400).

Trey Alexander dished a career-high eight assists in Thursday’s win vs. Marquette. The Oklahoma City product added 11 points, six rebounds, two steals and a block in the victory.

    Per Basketball-Reference.com, Alexander is the first Bluejay in 12 seasons under Greg McDermott with at least 11 points, eight assists, six rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot in the same contest.

Ryan Hawkins improved to 41-1 in his career on neutral floors with Thursday’s win. His teams are now 180-18 since he enrolled in college, and lost consecutive games just twice in six seasons.

Rati Andronikashvili’s three-pointer vs. Marquette was his first trey since Dec. 17, 2021, when he made a pair of trifectas in the league-opener vs. Villanova.

Ryan Kalkbrenner had six offensive rebounds on Thursday and now owns 117 this season. Creighton’s offensive rebounding records go back 35 years, and only Bob Harstad (with 118 in 1988-89) has more in a single campaign.

Ryan Hawkins played all 40 minutes in Thursday’s victory. It was the 30th time in Hawkins’ college career that he’s played 40 minutes or more, and third time this winter.  Hawkins has played 36 minutes or more in each of CU’s last 10 games.

    For the season, Creighton has had at least one player named Ryan on the floor for all but 38:26 of action and has been outscored 74-43 in that time.

– Creighton had five dunks on Thursday, including slams from Arthur Kaluma (3), Ryan Kalkbrenner (1) and Alex O’Connell (1). The Bluejays own 122 dunks this season, with more than half (63) of those coming from Kalkbrenner.

Arthur Kaluma has started strong in five games since returning from injury, leading CU with 42 points before halftime in those contests. Kaluma owned nine points before the break in Thursday’s win.

Ryan Kalkbrenner is shooting 76.9 percent on neutral floors this season, while Ryan Hawkins has made 53.1 percent of his three-point attempts on neutral floors this season.

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

Though much is made of the influx of freshmen on this year’s Creighton team, the Bluejays are 7-2 this season in games decided by five points or less.

    Since the start of last season, Creighton is 10-2 in one-possession games (decided by 3 or less). Those 10 victories by three points or less are tied for third-most nationally (Texas and Drake have 11) in that span and is the most among BIG EAST schools.  Providence is 7-4 in games decided by three points or less in the past two seasons.

    Creighton has won games this season by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 points.

Top 25 Success

A 79-59 win vs. No. 9 Villanova coupled with an 83-71 win vs. No. 24 BYU means Creighton owns a pair double-digit wins over top-25 competition this season, something only 12 other schools can also claim. Gonzaga has done it five times, Marquette, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Villanova have done it three times while Arizona, Baylor, Kentucky, Iowa State, Memphis and Rutgers have also done it twice. (NOTE…does not include Thursday night’s Iowa State/Texas Tech game)

    The Bluejays have now beaten multiple top-25 foes each of the last seven seasons (2015-16 to 2021-22), something only Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas, Michigan State, Purdue, Texas Tech and Villanova can also claim. Four other schools have beaten multiple top-25 foes in each of the previous six seasons —   Florida State (1), Michigan (1), Penn State (1)  and West Virginia (1) but are still seeking two top-25 wins this winter.

Creighton’s Most Top-25 Wins, Season

    Wins    Season    Top-25 Victims

    6    2019-20    #8 Villanova, #10 Seton Hall,

            #12 Texas Tech, #19 Marquette,

            #21 Butler, #8 Seton Hall

    4    2016-17    #9 Wisconsin, #12 Butler,

            #16 Butler, #22 Xavier

    4    2017-18    #3 Villanova, #19 Seton Hall,

            #20 Northwestern, #23 UCLA

    4    2021-22    #9 Villanova, #17 UConn,

            #18 UConn, #24 BYU

    3    2020-21    #5 Villanova, #22 Xavier, #23 UConn

    2    1973-74    #6 Marquette, #16 Louisville

    2    2001-02    #15 Florida, #17 Western Kentucky

    2    2006-07    #11 Southern Illinois, #24 Xavier

    2    2013-14    #4 Villanova, #6 Villanova

    2    2015-16    #5 Xavier, #18 Butler

    2    2018-19    #10 Marquette, #16 Clemson

Ranking News & Notes

– Creighton is 46-155 all-time against top-25 teams, including a 4-5 mark this season. The only teams with more top-25 wins this year are Villanova (7), Texas Tech (7), Marquette (6), Tennessee (6), Alabama (5), Kansas (5), Gonzaga (5), Wisconsin (5), Rutgers (5), Baylor (5) and Purdue (5).

– Creighton is 28-40 under Greg McDermott against nationally-ranked teams, 21 more top-25 wins than any other coach in Creighton history. Prior to McDermott’s arrival, Creighton was 18-115 all-time against top-25 foes.

– Creighton is 4-7 in neutral site games vs. the top-25 under Greg McDermott, compared to a 5-22 mark before his arrival.

– Creighton’s 28 top-25 wins since McDermott took over in 2010 are 36th-most nationally and more than schools like Arizona (27), Maryland (23), LSU (17), Auburn (16), Houston (14), Wichita State (14), USC (11), Memphis (11) and Saint Mary’s (7) in that time.

– Creighton has beaten at least one ranked team in each of the last eight seasons (including 2021-22), and multiple ranked foes in each of the last seven seasons (including 2021-22).

    On a national basis, the only 19 teams with a top-25 win each of the last eight seasons (including 2021-22) are Baylor,  Creighton, Duke, Florida State, Indiana, Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon,  Texas Tech, Villanova, Virginia, West Virginia,  Wisconsin and Xavier. Clemson,  Louisville, South Carolina and Syracuse are still seeking their first top-25 win this season.

– Creighton is 23-23 since the start of the 2016-17 season against ranked teams. The 23 wins over ranked teams in that time are 14th-most nationally, and trails only Villanova (31) among BIG EAST clubs.  In that same span, Providence is 17-24 against top-25 competition in that same span, though Creighton is currently unranked.

Stepping It Up

Ryan Hawkins has averaged 14.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in nine contests against ranked teams, shooting 48.0 percent from the field, 41.7 percent from three-point range and 90.9 percent at the line.

    By comparison, Hawkins averages 14.3 points and 7.5 rebounds against unranked foes, shooting 44.3 percent from the field, 36.4 percent from downtown and 76.7 percent from the stripe.

The Case For Creighton

Should Creighton not win the automatic bid at the BIG EAST Tournament, the Bluejays still have a compelling case for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Consider the following…

– Creighton owns four wins against teams that were in the AP Top 25. That includes a 79-59 win vs. No. 9 Villanova, a 59-55 win at No. 17 Connecticut, a 64-62 win vs. No. 18 Connecticut and an 83-71 win on a neutral floor vs. No. 24 BYU.

– Creighton owns six Quad 1 wins and four Quad 2 wins.

– Creighton swept home and road meetings with UConn and St. John’s and beat Marquette three times (home, road and neutral).

– Creighton is 10-6 away from home this season, including a 6-5 record in true road games and a 4-1 mark on neutral courts.

– Eight of Creighton’s 10 losses have come to teams that have been ranked multiple weeks this season.

– Creighton is 9-3 in its last 12 games despite six of those being true road contests and another being a neutral site game.

– Creighton has improved rapidly throughout the course of the year while replacing all five starters from last year’s Sweet 16 team. The Bluejays are the nation’s only team with three true freshmen averaging 25 minutes per game or more.

– Creighton has won despite injuries wreaking havoc throughout the season. The Bluejays played four games without Arthur Kaluma, and rallied from behind to defeat UConn, Marquette and St. John’s despite mid-game injuries to Ryan Kalkbrenner, Alex O’Connell and Ryan Nembhard.


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