OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Big East co-leader Creighton knows Xavier is lying in wait and Georgetown will be, too.
The ninth-ranked Bluejays (23-4, 13-2 Big East) play their last two road games against opponents trying to raise their profiles for the postseason.
First up is Xavier on Saturday. The third-place Musketeers (19-9, 9-6) are looking for help from their fans, selling standing-room tickets for the first time since the Cintas Center in Cincinnati opened in 2000. They’ve won 15 of 16 at home.
“Their crowd is going to be into it, and we have to be ready to match that,” Creighton’s Doug McDermott said. “We have to match the intensity. They’re going to sell it out, and that place historically has been a tough place to play.”
Creighton on Tuesday will be facing a desperate team in Georgetown (16-12, 7-9), which suffered a devastating loss at Marquette on Thursday and fell to seventh place. The Hoyas have the Big East’s toughest closing schedule. After hosting Creighton, they finish at conference co-leader Villanova.
The Bluejays beat Xavier 95-89 and Georgetown 76-63 in Omaha last month and have won four straight since a road loss to St. John’s. They escaped with a 72-71 home win over Seton Hall last Sunday.
“Nothing has been easy,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “You can’t have a game where you don’t play at your best because, if you do, you’re going to get beat. If you’re not quite yourselves, you try to figure out a way to hang on. The Seton Hall game was proof of that. We weren’t exactly as good as we’d like to be.”
Doug McDermott, the nation’s leading scorer, goes into Saturday off seven straight games of 25 points or more. He scored 35 in the first game against Xavier, and he knows he’ll be a marked man by the Musketeers and their fans.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s cool, just having everyone against you.”
The Bluejays were the dominant team in the Missouri Valley Conference the last 10 years, and they often represented the biggest game on their opponents’ schedules. They were somewhat of an unknown early in their first season in the reconstituted Big East.
“Now that we’re coming down to the end, and people have seen us once, and now they’re seeing us for a second time, people want a piece of us a little more,” guard Isaiah Zierden said. “At the beginning, it was, ‘OK, Creighton, they were in the Valley. I think we can beat them.’ Now they know what we can bring to the table, so it’s a bigger game.”