Friday, November 28, 2014

#23 Creighton faces Ole Miss tonight in Emerald Coast Classic

Niceville, FL - - #23 Creighton (5-0) continues play in the Emerald Coast Classic when it plays its first games of the season away from CenturyLink Center Omaha this weekend.

First up is a Friday evening game vs. Ole Miss (3-1). Tip-off at The Arena (2,200) in Niceville, Fla., is set for 7:30 pm Central.

Creighton has never faced Ole Miss in this Big East vs. SEC match up. The winner will face the winner of the Cincinnati vs. Middle Tennessee State game on Saturday night on CBS Sports Network (Direct #221).

Creighton has opened the young season with five straight wins, posting home victories over Central Arkansas (104-77), Chicago State (84-66), No. 18 Oklahoma (65-63),   North Carolina Central (65-45) and Eastern Illinois (75-53).

The Bluejays have had a different scorer in each victory, and six men are averaging at least 8.0 points per game.

Two of those men are scoring in double-figures, a group led by sophomore SG Isaiah Zierden (13.8 ppg.), with senior C Will Artino (10.2 ppg. 6.0 rpg.) not far behind.

Doing a little bit of everything has been senior guard Devin Brooks (8.0 ppg., 6.2 rpg., 4.0 apg.), who leads the team in rebounding and steals and is second in rebounding while continuing to stuff the stat sheet.

Creighton returns 11 lettermen from last year’s 27-8 team that reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament for a third consecutive season. However, senior PG Austin Chatman (9.6 ppg., 4.6 apg.) is the only returning starter from that group.

The Bluejays are trying to replace the most victorious senior class in program history, as Grant Gibbs, Jahenns Manigat, Doug McDermott and Ethan Wragge combined for 107 wins as well as 5,934 points, 872 three-pointers, 1,062 assists and 2,250 rebounds at CU. All four men are now playing professionally, including McDermott in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls after he averaged 26.7 points per game and swept 14 National Player of the Year awards last winter.

Ole Miss has won three straight games since suffering a 66-65 overtime loss at the buzzer to Charleston Southern in its season-opener.

Jarvis Summers (14.3 ppg., 3.8 rpg., 3.8 apg.) leads the team in scoring, just ahead of Stefan Moody (11.8 ppg., 2.5 spg.) and LaDarius White (11.5 ppg., 4.3 rpg.).

The Rebels are averaging 72.0 points per game, despite making just 18 three-pointers on 23.4 percent marksmanship from long-range. Ole Miss has outrebounded teams by eight caroms per contest and owns 21 blocked shots in four games.

Greg McDermott (Northern Iowa, 1988) is in his fifth season as head coach at Creighton. He led CU to a 27-8 mark last year, and is 112-38 with the Bluejays. McDermott has previously been a head coach at Iowa State (2006-10), Northern Iowa (2001-06), North Dakota State (2000-01) and Wayne State (1994-2000). He owns a career mark of 392-233 in his 21st season and is 261-169 in his 14th Division I campaign. McDermott is assisted by Darian DeVries, Steve Lutz and Patrick Sellers.

Andy Kennedy (UAB, 1991) is 174-102 in nine seasons as the Ole Miss head coach, moving his career mark to 195-115 in 10 seasons when you include a year as Cincinnati’s interim coach. He was also previously an assistant coach at Cincinnati, UAB and South Alabama, and is assisted by Bill Armstrong, Tony Madlock and Todd Abernethy.

7-Foot redshirt junior center Geoffrey Groselle had the best game of his Bluejay career on Tuesday, finishing with 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting in just 12 minutes of playing time. His play earned him a pair of standing ovations from the more than 17,400+ fans at CenturyLink Center Omaha.

Groselle had owned just 44 career points in the first 36 games of his career before his outburst. Groselle has made 26-of-34 career field goal attempts, good for 76.5 percent.

Creighton has used three men who alternate playing time at the “5” position for most of this season, Artino, sophomote Zach Hanson and Groselle.

While none of them have stats that might jump off the page individually, as a collective group they’re tough to beat, combining for 20.8 ppg. and 11.0 rpg. in 39.6 minutes per game, all while shooting 64.1 percent from the floor.

Name    MPG    FG-FGA    RPG    PPG
Artino    19.0    19-35    6.0    10.2
Hanson    12.8    10-15    3.8    5.2
Groselle    7.8    12-14    1.2    5.4
Total    39.6    41-64    11.0    20.8

Creighton will bring a balanced attack into the game against Ole Miss. Creighton owns six players who are averaging 8.0 points per game or more this season.  Eight players have scored 12 or more points in a game this year, and CU has seen a different leading scorer in each contest.

Creighton also has seven different players with five or more rebounds in a game this year. The Bluejays have had a different player with 10 or more rebounds in four games this season after only having three players with double-figure rebound totals (McDermott, Gibbs, Artino) all last season.

Three of those men (Chatman, junior James Milliken, Brooks) are guards. Chatman has been Creighton’s outright leader in rebounding two of his past three games after doing that just once in the first 108 games of his career.

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