Villanova vs. Creighton: Score, Grades and Analysis

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIIFebruary 17, 2014

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The No. 18 Creighton Blue Jays blew out the No. 6 Villanova Wildcats in their first meeting behind insane three-point shooting. On Sunday, they wanted to prove the first win wasn't a fluke.   

After the 101-80 win, there's no doubt which team is better. Behind 39 points from National Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott, Creighton took it to Nova at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. As the school's official Twitter account indicates, the win put it back in the top spot in the conference standings.

When the teams met on Jan. 20, Creighton knocked down a Big East record 21 three-pointers en route to a 96-68 win. Ethan Wragge made nine treys in that one. 

On Sunday, McDermott went off. He had 22 of his 39 points them in the first half to stoke Creighton to a lead it would never relinquish. Nova was led by James Bell, who scored 18 points in a losing effort.

Nati Harnik/Associated Press

McDermott will get a lot of credit for Creighton's success—as he should—but former MAC star and NBA player Wally Szcerbiak wants to make sure Greg McDermott, Doug's dad and head coach, gets his due. 

Creighton's confidence has to be sky high now that it has two wins over a legitimate Top 10 team in the nation. Critics can look at the fact that so much of the Bluejays offense comes from McDermott, but they have a bevy of shooters who can make teams pay for collapsing on their star. Equally as important is the fact that McDermott is a willing passer.

The Wildcats' psyche is probably a bit shaken. The first loss could be disregarded as a fluke. Creighton was unconscious from beyond the arc in that game. However, to get throttled for the second time by this team and give up 101 points could have done a number on the Wildcats' confidence. It will be up to head coach Jay Wright to find some positives in this loss in hopes of giving his team something to build on.

The Turning Point

McDermott didn't miss much in the first half, but in one key situation at the 2:50 mark, he missed a 17-footer, got his own rebound and stuck the put-back.

The shot gave the Blue Jays a 40-31 lead. It was a big sequence because it kept Creighton on a run that would ultimately reach 11-0. 

Also, it came on the heels of a TV timeout. With McDermott destroying Villanova throughout the first half, this was a demoralizing sequence when the Wildcats were trying to stop the bleeding.

Bryan Fischer has some advice for Greg McDermott and Creighton as it moves toward postseason play.

Key Stat - Field-Goal Percentage

OMAHA, NE - FEBRUARY 16: James Bell #32 of the Villanova Wildcats drives to the basket over Doug McDermott #3 of the Creighton Bluejays during their game at CenturyLink Center on February 16th, 2014 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

How does Creighton keep smashing Villanova? The Wildcats are a team that lives and dies by its three-point shooting on most nights. The Blue Jays are the rare team that 'Nova simply can't bomb with.

They needed to adjust their approach, but unfortunately for them, the Wildcats didn't really start trying to take the ball to the basket until the second half. 

The Cats did shoot the three well (11-for-22), but shot 40 percent from the field in the first half. With more attention on getting the ball inside, 'Nova raised its percentage to 46 percent, but it was too late.

In the first meeting, Nova made just 39.7 percent from the field. Against a team that can bomb like Creighton, it's hard to win when you shoot that low of a percentage. The Blue Jays made 64 percent of their shots. Part of the reason was because the team was hot in the first half. In the second half, Nova's defensive intensity was lacking


Doug McDermott, A

Nati Harnik/Associated Press

You won't find a more efficient or in-the-flow 39-point performance. McDermott didn't force shots, but he sure made a lot of them. He drained four threes in the game and made 13-of-17 overall.

As Fox Sports 1 points out, one of those bombs pushed him past Larry Bird on the all-time college basketball scoring list.

Casey Keefe of WFAN talks about the big-time college and/or pro stars McDermott studies to better his game.

Twitter went nuts over Sunday's performance, but Kwame Fisher-Jones of ESPNPA offers some sobering facts to cool off the prisoners of the moment.

It's true that Hansbrough is next in line for McDermott to pass on the all-time scoring list and that Bird put up his totals in three seasons—with no three-point line. The kid is smart; even he knows to keep passing Bird in the proper perspective.

After the game in an interview with Fox Sports' Donny Marshall, McDermott said this per Nicole Auerbach of USA Today.

Still, McDermott deserves credit for what he's doing on the college level. The jury is still out on whether he'll light up the scoreboard in the NBA, though.

Ethan Wragge, C

Feb 9, 2014; Jamaica, NY, USA;  Creighton Bluejays forward Ethan Wragge (34) shoots a free throw during the first half against the St. John's Red Storm at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

The Blue Jays didn't need him to make nine threes in this one, but he did play decent interior defense. He had only five points on Sunday and wasn't much of an offensive factor.

Grant Gibbs, B

Nati Harnik/Associated Press

Gibbs was smart with the ball—mainly because he gave it to McDermott and got out of the way—but he also had some nice opportunistic baskets.

He finished with 11 points and three assists.

James Bell, B-

Jan 25, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Villanova Wildcats guard James Bell (32) during the game against the Marquette Golden Eagles at BMO Harris Bradley Center.  Villanova won 94-85.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

He fouled out with 6:11 left in the game with things all but out of reach. He was called for a flagrant foul—which was insane—but Bell did have 18 points. He sunk five three-pointers, but could have served his team a bit better with more effort on defense.

JayVaughn Pinkston, C

ROSEMONT, IL - FEBRUARY 12: Jayvaughn Pinkston #22 of the Villanova Wildcats dunks against the DePaul Blue Demons at the Allstate Arena on February 12, 2014 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

He simply waited too long to get aggressive with the ball. When Pinkston started taking his man off the dribble, he almost single-handedly put the Blue Jays in the penalty. Unfortunately for Villanova, it was too late in the game for that strategy.

He finished with 15 points and five rebounds, but he was victimized by McDermott on the defensive end.

Ryan Arcidiacono, D-

Feb 12, 2014; Rosemont, IL, USA; Villanova Wildcats guard Ryan Arcidiacono (15) brings the ball up court against the DePaul Blue Demons during the first half at the Allstate Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Wildcats point guard's defense was porous all game. He was like a revolving door on the perimeter. On offense, he was 1-for-4 from the field and 1-for-3 from the line.

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