Struggling Creighton will look to halt a five-game slide when it visits surprising Marquette in the Big East opener for each team Friday night in Milwaukee.
Creighton (6-5) won its first six games, climbing as high as No. 7 in the poll, before losing to then-No. 14 Arizona 81-79 on Nov. 23 in the championship game of the Maui Invitational, then falling 72-67 at then-No. 2 Texas on Dec 1.
Creighton first dropped to No. 21, then fell completely out of the rankings while losing three more games.
The Bluejays were upset by in-state rival Nebraska on Dec. 4, then dropped their last two in the Jack Jones Hoopfest at Las Vegas, losing 83-80 to BYU and 73-71 to Arizona State on Monday in a game they led by 10 with 12:45 remaining.
“The schedule ended up taking a toll on us, probably more than I thought it would,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “You hope that it will pay off later, that some of the lessons that we’ve learned from playing this stretch, as much as we’ve been away from home, that we can grow from it. That’s our hope, but nobody’s going to feel sorry for us.”
Marquette (8-3) closed out its nonconference schedule with a 79-64 victory at Notre Dame on Sunday. The Golden Eagles’ three losses have been by a total of 11 points against currently-ranked opponents who are a combined 28-2.
Marquette let a nine-point second-half lead slip away last month in a 75-70 loss at Purdue, which is now ranked No. 1. The Golden Eagles also lost to Mississippi State, now ranked No. 17, and Wisconsin, now No. 22.
The Golden Eagles blew out Baylor, ranked No. 6 at the time, 96-70 on Nov. 29.
Oso Ighodaro had 16 points and a career-high 18 rebounds as Marquette scored 50 points in the paint in the win over Notre Dame.
“I thought today was one of our better games from a consistency standpoint,” Marquette coach Shaka Smart said. “We played two halves really hard. We stayed connected. We did not get out of sort, but at the same time there is a lot of growth from this game. There is a lot from this game we can do better on.”
Kam Jones, who has topped 20 points in three of the past four games, averages 16.4 points with a team-high 31 3-pointers for Marquette.
Creighton’s Ryan Kalkbrenner, last season’s Big East defensive player of the year, leads the Bluejays with 15.9 points per game but has missed the last two contests with a non-COVID illness.
–Field Level Media