An electric first six minutes saw Seton Hall play neck-and-neck with Creighton before succumbing to a lethally potent Bluejay offense carried by all-everything forward Doug McDermott (30 pts, 10 rebs, 5 asts), 79-66.
Playing without centers Gene Teague (concussion) and Aaron Geramipoor (sprained ankle), Seton Hall came out trading blows with the Bluejays and trailed 18-16 with 13:20 to play in the first half after a Brian Oliver (12 pts, 4-6 3pt) three-ball. The narrow gap quickly expanded to twelve in just under four minutes due to seven points from impact sub Devin Brooks (11 pts, 4 rebs), who spelled foul-plagued Austin Chatman, and five points from Doug McDermott.
Creighton kept the pedal to the metal for the rest of the half, trailing by no less than nine points and holding a twelve-point at the break. As expected, Doug McDermott was a focal point for the Bluejay offense all game, with his 22 points and 7 rebounds in the first half affording Creighton a comfortable cushion. Leading by ten late in the half, the Bluejays were gifted a non-essential five-point swing when it looked like a player travelled before Jahenns Manigat (14 pts, 4 asts, 4 rebs) drilled a long three-pointer. Several feet on the court and clearly angered by the no-call, Kevin Willard was whistled for a technical. Another Brian Oliver three-pointer before the break salvaged Seton Hall from a fifteen-point halftime deficit.
Much like the start of the game, Seton Hall matched Creighton offensively to begin the second half, but eventually defaulted to taking contested, individual efforts while the Bluejays used their far superior passing and off-ball movement to shred the Pirates' defense. Creighton set the tone by running two set plays to start off the half that worked to pre-game walkthrough perfection. Also like the first half, Creighton ballooned their lead to eighteen with 9:00 to play and didn't look back, holding at least an eight-point lead for the remainder of the game. An 11-1 offensive rebounding margin in favor of the Bluejays piled onto an already challenged Seton Hall defensive effort. "One of their [Creighton] weaknesses is they are not an overly good offensive rebounding team," Kevin Willard explained to Gary Cohen and Dave Popkin post-game on 570 AM. "When you give them eleven extra chances, you got no chance. That was really our issue in the first half."
Seton Hall looked collectively lost on defense for most of the game, a result of playing without their two centers and an incredibly impressive Creighton offense. Perhaps due to not being 100-percent after suffering a banged knee late against Providence, Fuquan Edwin (8 pts, 4 rebs) was not required to guard Doug McDermott, a job that was asked of Patrik Auda (10 pts, 5 rebs), Brandon Mobley (4 pts, 3 blks) in smaller stretches, and Stephane Manga (9 pts).
The Pirate attack looked decent for stretches of play, but they were fighting uphill on offense for most of the game and looked like they were trying to push too hard at times. Sterling Gibbs (17 pts) was perhaps Seton Hall's most consistent threat due to Brian Oliver being sidelined in stretches for what appeared to be defensive purposes in the second half. However, just two assists for Gibbs and seven total assists on nineteen made shots illustrates Seton Hall's woes on the offensive end. "We just have to do a little better job of getting guys involved on the break a little more. That is just being a little bit more patient on offense," said Willard. "When we drove, we got in a little trouble, they [Creighton] don't get foul calls, they do a good job of showing their hands [playing with their bodies] and we got a little frustrated with that."
The loss prevented Seton Hall's first 2-0 start to league play since the 1999-00 season and snapped a three-game win streak that started after their loss to Saint Peter's. The Pirates host eleventh ranked Villanova on Wednesday night at Prudential Center.