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Xavier (21-11) vs. (14) Creighton (25-6)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Friday, March 14, 9:30 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Madison Square Garden (19,763) -- New York, New York. Television: FS1. Home Record: Xavier 15-2, Creighton 16-0. Away Record: Xavier 4-6, Creighton 7-4. Neutral Record: Xavier 2-3, Creighton 2-2. Conference Record: Xavier 10-8, Creighton 14-4. Series Record: Xavier leads, 10-7.

GAME NOTES: The Creighton Bluejays take aim at a spot in the Big East Conference Tournament championship game when they clash with the Xavier Musketeers in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.

With top-seed Villanova already ousted, Creighton, which is the No. 2 seed, is suddenly the overwhelming favorite to win the tournament. The Bluejays were already a strong contender prior to the Wildcats' exit, as they showed by blasting DePaul, 84-62, in the quarterfinals. They are now 25-6 overall, posting wins in six of their last eight games.

Xavier did not have such an easy time in the quarterfinals. Facing sixth- seeded Marquette, the third-seeded Musketeers pulled out a 68-65 victory to push into this round. The win came after the Musketeers ended the regular season with back-to-back losses to Seton Hall and Villanova.

The last win Xavier earned in the regular season came against Creighton, when it upset the Bluejays in a 75-69 final at the Cintas Center. The Musketeers hold a slight lead in the all-time series (10-7), which has been short-lived as this is the first season these teams have been conference rivals.

Justin Martin scored 19 points and Semaj Christon had 18 points and five assists for Xavier in the win over Marquette. The Musketeers connected on 46.9 percent from the field and had a 17-8 scoring edge from the free-throw line to hold off the Golden Eagles, who they led the entire second half, but never by more than six points.

Xavier is used to being entrenched in low-scoring battles, as it is scoring a modest 72 ppg, while limiting the opposition to 67.4 ppg on 42.4 percent from the field. However, the Musketeers are an efficient offensive group, sinking a respectable 47 percent from the field. Christon (17.1 ppg, 4.1 apg) is one of the more talented guards in the conference. He leads the team not only in scoring, but also in assists, making him the playmaker to watch when Xavier is on offense. Martin (11.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Matt Stainbrook (10.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg) anchor the team on the inside.

Doug McDermott was at it again in the first round, as he netted a tournament- record 27 points in the first half and finished with 35 total in leading Creighton over the Blue Demons. McDermott wasn't the only one knocking down shots, as the Bluejays hit 60.4 percent from the floor and 14-of-22 from beyond the arc.

At this point it is just a matter of time before McDermott claims the Naismith Player of the Year award. The senior forward leads the country in scoring (26.8 ppg), while shooting 52.6 percent from the field and 46 percent from 3- point range. He is also the Bluejays' top performer on the glass. With McDermott at the helm, Creighton has been outstanding as an offensive team, ranking among the top-five in the nation in field goal percentage (.499), while netting 80 ppg, which ranks 21st. There is a bit more balance outside of McDermott, with Ethan Wragge the next best option, followed by four other players averaging at least seven ppg.

A hot hand has helped many a team win this tournament in the past. From Gerry McNamara to Kemba Walker, just a single shooter has proven to make the difference. McDermott has been scorching from the floor all season and has plenty of other shooters around him.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Creighton 78, Xavier 68

03/14 10:34:07 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14
 
3rd
SFG 1
KAN 0
 
Final
WISC 52
MD 7
Final
SMU 10
MEM 48
Final
ILL 28
MINN 24
Final
RICE 41
UNT 21
Final
NEB 42
RUTG 24
Final
KST 23
TEX 0
Final
ARK 45
UAB 17
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
EMICH 17
NILL 28
Final
NAVY 41
SJST 31
Final
BST 35
AKR 21
Final
GASTATE 31
GASO 69
Final
TOL 42
UMASS 35
Final
WMICH 42
OHIO 21
Final
COL 37
UCLA 40
Final
UMO 10
KSU 3
Final
WAKE 17
BC 23
Final
BUF 14
CMICH 20
Final
MARS 35
FATL 16
Final
PITT 28
GT 56
Final
SMISS 20
LATU 31
Final
MSU 35
MICH 11
Final
KENT 31
MSST 45
Final
STAN 38
ORST 14
Final
TCU 82
TTU 27
Final
OKST 10
WVU 34
Final
WKENT 66
ODU 51
Final
UTST 34
UNLV 20
 
Final
MIZZ 24
VANDY 14
Final
UCF 34
TEMPL 14
 
4th
WASU 23
ARZ 52
 
3rd
CLEM 3
SYR 6
 
3rd
LAMON 15
TXST 7
 
3rd
TXSANANTO 0
UTEP 17
 
3rd
COLST 24
WYO 3
 
Half
LSU 3
MISS 7
 
2nd
TENN 7
ALA 27
 
Half
AUB 21
SCAR 21
 
2nd
PSU 0
OSU 7
 
10:00pm Tonight
UTAH
USC
10:45pm Tonight
WASH
ARST
11:59pm Tonight
HAW
NEV
Final
SJS 1
BUF 2
2nd Intermission
TOR 0
BOS 2
 
3rd
NYI 4
DAL 4
 
3rd
PHI 2
DET 1
 
2nd Intermission
OTT 1
NJD 2
 
2nd Intermission
MON 2
NYR 1
 
1st Intermission
STL 1
CHI 1
 
2nd
NAS 0
PIT 1
 
2nd
MIN 4
TAM 1
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARI
FLA
10:00pm Tonight
CAL
WAS
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14