Hoyas: Creighton's McDermott 'the best player in the country'

Hoyas: Creighton's McDermott 'the best player in the country'
January 25, 2014, 9:15 am
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Matchup: Georgetown (11-7, 3-4 Big East) vs. Creighton (16-3, 6-1)

When: Saturday, 8:00 p.m.

Where: Century Link Center, Omaha

Broadcast: TV - FS1, Radio - 570 AM.

Last time out: Leading by seven points with three minutes and 65-62 with six seconds left, the Hoyas surrendered a game-tying 3-pointer in regulation and then immediately lost their way in overtime, falling 80-72 to Marquette despite a combined 52 points from Markel Starks and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera.

History:  The new Big East rivals have met only once before with Creighton winning 80-79 during the 1970-71 season.

KenPom: Georgetown 69, Creighton 3

RPI: Georgetown 70, Creighton 10

Coaches: Georgetown - John Thompson III; Creighton - Greg McDermott

Leaders: Hoyas - Scoring (D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, 17.5), Rebounding (Mikael Hopkins, 5.9), Assists (Markel Starks, 3.9); Bluejays - Scoring (Doug McDermott, 24.8), Rebounding (McDermott, 7.1), Assists (Austin Chatman, 4.2)

Links:

*Joshua Smith ruled academically ineligible, out for remainder of the season

*JTIII on the Bluejays dynamic offense: "[Creighton] can score in any kind of way"

*Film review: Hoyas 3-point defense misses the mark

All-American: In a season noted for its starry freshman talent, Creighton senior Doug McDermott stands out. That's because the 6-foot-8 forward isn't a diamond in the rough. He's a fully formed offensive force tearing up the Big East during his first season in the conference.

The two-time All-American is well on his way to becoming a rare three-timer. McDermott ranks second in the country with 24.8 points per game. The ultimate shot-maker, he knocks down 50 percent of his overall attempts, 44 percent of 3-point tries and 90 percent from the free throw line. No softy, the coach's son also grabs 7.1 rebounds per game.

McDermott has also quite the admirer on the Hilltop.

"McDermott is special. He's the best player in the country," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said on Friday at McDonough Arena before the Hoyas headed to Omaha. "Not just because of how he scores the ball, but the energy that he plays with. He's in perpetual motion. he make the right reads on every situation. He is an outstanding basketball player."

As a reminder, Georgetown faced Kansas and its two top-5 projected picks Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid this season.

Viewed as an NBA Draft lottery this summer, McDermott has scored at least 19 points in all but one game this season (George Washington held him to seven points in a win on Dec. 1). He made 5 of 8 3-pointers in  Creighton's epic shooting display against Villanova on Monday, one of six games with at least four 3's this season.

The task of defending McDermott won't be left to any single player, but forwards Mikael Hopkins, Nate Lubick and Aaron Bowen will all get turns. The 6-foot-9 Hopkins, who has averaged 13 rebounds over his last two games and 3.7 blocks in last three games, understands and respects the challenge.

"He's a coach's son. He has a scorer's mentality," Hopkins said. "He wants the ball in his hands. He knows he's a star. Everybody on the court knows he's a star. He does the things that stars do. He calls for the ball, he posts up hard, he knocks down shots, he puts the ball on the floor. He's a great player. it's going to be hard to defend him, but I think we can do it."

Odds and Ends: Creighton leads the Big East in scoring with 82.6 points. The Hoyas (72.3) are tied for eighth, but are averaging only 63.6 points in the five games without Josh Smith and that includes two overtime contests. ...Guard and former walk-on John Caprio has played 77 minutes this season -- or 16 more minutes than in his first three seasons. ...Hopkins ranks fourth in the Big East with 1.6 and 10th in rebounding. He grabbed 35 rebounds over his last four games. Smith had 44 rebounds in 13 games this season. ...Both coaches will wear sneakers as part of the national "Coaches versus Cancer" across college basketball. Because the wives of both head coaches have dealt with breast cancer, Creighton is making the game a "Pink Out". Georgetown's shoes will have pink.