With the goal of finishing their road trip 1-1 in mind, Seton Hall will look to beat Creighton for the first time in the Big East on Saturday.
The Bluejays (0-3) are without a win in the conference including a shocking 70-60 loss to DePaul at home on Wednesday night. Greg McDermott's team did start conference play with two straight road games, but have also lost at North Texas over the four-game losing streaking they're trying to snap.
Notable over Creighton's tough run of play are their offensive woes. The Jays have averaged just 58 ppg over the span that has included three road games. Only senior point guard Austin Chatman (13.1 ppg, 4.4 apg, 4 rpg) and sophomore three-point threat Isaiah Zierden (11.1 ppg) average in double figures for Creighton.
Seton Hall is still looking to cash in on the road ahead of four manageable games during the rest of the month. The Hall closes their schedule with game away from home at Villanova, St. John's and Georgetown, so they need to get their road legs under them sooner rather than later.
The Bluejays feature a balanced scoring attack as shown by no player scoring in double figures more than once over their first three Big East games. While scoring is balanced among the players, most of it comes from beyond the arc. Creighton has attempted 20 or more threes in nine straight games since late November including 39 attempts in a loss to North Texas. Their 3PA/FGA ratio ranks 10th in the nation and their percentage of points scored from three (36.7%) ranks 23rd in the country. As a team, the Bluejays shoot triples at just the 177th-best percentage (33.4%), perhaps a reason why they've struggled recently.
Guard Isaiah Zierden (41-102, 40.2%) is Creighton's biggest threat from beyond the arc but post forward Toby Hegner (29-80, 36.2%) isn't afraid to venture outside the paint and lead guard Austin Chatman (22-76, 28.9%) will launch the rock too. Zierden started the season hot, but is just 10-of-36 over his last five games from three. Hegner has hit three or more three-pointers on seven occasions this season.
Only two Bluejays average over 24 mpg in Chatman and Zierden at guard. Chatman can step back and hit jumpers as well as create for his teammates, but he has averaged just 9.2 ppg over his last four games compared to 20.2 ppg over the five games before.
Toby Hegner (8.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg) shares time with Will Artino (6.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and Zach Hanson (5.2 ppg, 3 rpg) at forward, but only Hegner has proved to be an offensive threat. Creighton frequently goes with smaller lineups with three or four guards on that court, a look that will match up well against Seton Hall. 6-foot-7 California transfer Ricky Kreklow (4.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg), James Milliken (5.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg) and Avery Dingman (3.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg) all play varying roles off the bench with senior guard Devin Brooks (7.5 ppg, 5 rpg, 2.9 apg) primarily seeing minutes as Creighton's third most productive guard.
Like we saw last season, the Bluejays like to share the rock and that has remained a constant despite the loss of key talented players. Creighton has the 51st-best A/FGM ratio and play at a methodical pace that ranks 260th and shouldn't become a thorn in Seton Hall's side like Xavier's transition game did.
Creighton statistically isn't a great defensive team and they don't block nor turn opponents over, similar to last season. They do protect the defensive glass well, which should be tested with Angel Delgado lurking in the paint on Saturday. The Jays have given up 7.6 offensive rebounds per game in the Big East and have the 26th-best defensive rebounding percentage in the nation.
Three things to watch:
Battle beyond the arc. Creighton high reliance on the three ball will be put to the test against the nation's fourth-best three-point defense in Seton Hall. Their numbers don't really jump out at your, but the Jays will need to be guarded one through five at times and can hurt teams like when they went 10-of-23 against Nebraska or 13-of-31 (42%) against Saint Mary's.
A commitment to Angel Delgado on offense. If Seton Hall's guards are struggling, perhaps the ball needs to get down low to Angel Delgado more often. The freshman has proved to be more than capable on the offensive end and was able to get his points against Matt Stainbrook on Wednesday. Delgado's offensive rating against Xavier was the highest on the team.
Working for better shots. Seton Hall took a bunch of contested shots early in the shot clock (as documented here) against Xavier instead of working the defense harder. The Musketeers played strong defense, but a more dedicated effort will be required of Seton Hall to make a difference in road games.
Series history (SHU 1-2):
Feb. 23, 2014, Creighton 72, SETON HALL 71, Omaha, Nebraska
Jan. 4, 2014, Creighton 79, SETON HALL 66, Newark, N.J.
March 16, 1991, SETON HALL 81, Creighton 69, Salt Lake City, Utah
KenPom says: No. 32 Seton Hall 67, No. 117 Creighton 64 (62%)
Projected Creighton starters:
PG - Austin Chatman
G - Devin Brooks
G - Isaiah Zierden
F - Avery Dingman
C - Toby Hegner
When: Saturday, 2:15ET
TV: FOX Sports 1
Radio: 970 AM
Opening line: Seton Hall -1