Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Green's five takeaways from Creighton's 79-67 win at DePaul

Photo Credit: Geno Green- College Sports Overload

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

The Creighton Bluejays (14-13, 5-9 Big East) found themselves on the correct end of the scoreboard for a change with a 79-67 win over the DePaul Blue Demons (13-12, 5-9 Big East) to snap a four-game losing streak in conference play. The end of the drought kicks off Green’s five takeaways from Wintrust Arena.

1) Luck finally goes in Creighton’s direction:

After a four-game losing streak with all of the results in the single-digit range, the Bluejays emerged from the depths of the cellar for a much-needed win to keep their slim NCAA Tournament at-large hopes alive.

It could have been easy for Creighton to take its ball and go home after the recent late-game struggles, but coach Greg McDermott believed in his high character guys and the ability to persevere.

“You don’t bounce back from that if you have guys with questionable characters and are about themselves,” McDermott said. “You bounce back from that if you have good dudes in the locker room and these guys through the tough times were able to self-reflect. That makes it a really fun environment to be around given the turnaround.”

2) The emergence of Flynn Cameron:

In need of additional depth off the bench for most of this season, freshman Flynn Cameron emerged with 11 points as all of the scoring came in a 5:17 stretch in the first half.

Blue Demons coach Dave Leitao raved about how Cameron kept a positive approach on things and how the guard wanted to help in other ways.

“Flynn’s a guy who had not played a whole lot all year round and the thing I respect about him the most is he has been the same exact person the whole season,” Leitao said. “I have never seen him give up and to come out this late into the Big East season and hitting four shots without hesitation speaks to the kind of young man he is.”

3) Creighton’s magical 14-2 run:

The first half saw many twists and turns, but the Bluejays took advantage of Paul Reed and Femi Olujobi’s foul troubles as they attacked on offense with multiple mismatches. Creighton took advantage and capped off a 14-2 run to close the half with a running three-pointer on the top of the key by Ty-Shon Alexander.

Alexander had two points before the shot from around 25-feet out and used the conversion to fuel momentum finishing with a team-high 16 points.

“It helped a lot especially knowing that the guys I play with share the ball well,” Alexander said. “We always talk in practice about spacing and how to get better shots. Our guys did a great job of finding me and to help get back on track.”

4) Bluejays’ hot perimeter shooting:

Creighton came into Wednesday’s game as the fifth-best team in Division I with a 40.3 field goal percentage from the perimeter. The pristine shooting remained in effect in the win going 35 percent (9-of-26).

DePaul forward Max Strus acknowledged the difficulties of having to deal with a well-disciplined set of Creighton shooters.

“They all can shoot and once you close out, they drive right past you. We had to guard our own yard and we struggled with that. We have to figure things out as a team, which will help us with winning,” Strus said.

5) A night to forget for Gage:

A trend noticed with DePaul in conference play has been Devin Gage’s green light to take any shot on the floor with little to no consequences. Gage missed all eight of his field goal shot attempts in the first half, which played a part in the Blue Demons going down by as many as 11 points.

Despite a brief flurry in the second half, the sophomore shot 4-of-16 and finished with 10 points. Gage’s up and down play has been one of many issues for the Blue Demons in their three-game losing streak.

As they stand game out of sixth place and a first-round bye in the Big East Tournament at stake, the Blue Demons will need better guard play and more consistent defense in order to have any shot of avoiding being the bottom dwellers of the conference for another season.