Monday, January 18, 2016

The science behind Isaiah Zierden's 31-point performance at DePaul

                                 Photo Credit: Geno Green

On a chilly, frozen Sunday outside in Rosemont, Ill., the sound of a dribbling basketball heated things up inside the Allstate Arena as the Creighton Blue Jays found themselves on opposite ends of an 11-point swing.

Behind Isaiah Zierden's career-high 31 points, on 8-of-11 from three-point range, Creighton (13-6 overall, 4-2 BIG EAST) defeated DePaul (6-12 overall, 0-6 BIG EAST), 91-80 on Jan. 17.

Even with the win, Creighton overcame an early deficit as an 11-0 DePaul spanned over the first 4:28 of the game, behind superb defensive rebounding and timely long-range makes.

"We stuck with it even being down early and fought back," Zierden said. "We lost our last game at Providence and to come on the road to get a win is a big thing."

Things looked even bleaker after Tommy Hamilton's triple from the wing to put DePaul ahead 16-4, but it would be Zierden's response from long range that began to swing the momentum towards Creighton.

Zierden would make another three-pointer as it contributed to an 11-0 Blue Jays run to make it 18-18.

At the 3:42 mark in the first half with both teams playing at high pace and exchanging leads, Hamilton's technical foul for slamming the ball on the hardwood would prove to be the game-changer for Creighton.

Clinging to a 37-36 lead over DePaul, Zierden would be the blue Jay who would go to the foul line. After making the two technical foul shots, Zierden went back to the line from Hamilton's original foul and made the first free throw.

The second attempt rimmed out, but somehow the ball landed back into Zierden's lap and would step back to convert another three-pointer to cap off a six-point possession.

Zierden's six points proved to be the difference as Creighton went into halftime ahead 47-41 on DePaul.

In the early portion of the second half, Creighton found itself back in a dead heat with DePaul at 50-50.

Once more, Zierden came to the rescue.

Zierden went on his own 9-2 run on the Blue Demons—all on long-range makes with open looks in transition.

"I mean, it is kind of how it goes sometimes," Zierden said. "[DePaul] lost me in transition and I was trying to find the open spot and my teammates did a great job of finding me and I let the ball go."

The run proved to be the difference this time as DePaul would get no closer than 78-75 with 2:14 left in regulation. Creighton would close the game on a 13-5 run, but Zierden's key spurts from long-range made the biggest impact in the win.

Another ranked opponent comes calling to the CenturyLink Center  on Jan. 23 as No. 18 Butler will be on the opposite side of the spectrum.

Zierden knows the 50-48 loss to Providence on Jan. 13 serves as motivation.

"We have to learn from that Providence loss and Butler is a great team and we want to be able to protect our home floor and do what we can to get a home win," Zierden said.

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.