Things have never been better for Creighton basketball.
That is not hyperbole. That is literal. The program has never been ranked as high as it is at this moment (No. 8), and the Bluejays responded to the respect by notching a nice victory in Wednesday night’s most anticipated game. Greg McDermott’s team was in control from tip to buzzer vs. No. 12 Butler, winning 75-64.
The victory keeps Creighton apace with Villanova at the top of the Big East (4-1). Of course, Villanova won at Creighton on New Year’s Eve.
Here are three takeaways worth chewing on from a game that wasn’t as good as I hoped, but still brought about things to learn.
1. Can everyone else start giving Creighton more love?
We here at CBSSports.com have consistently written about and talked about (check the podcast) Creighton’s run, going back to November. Mo Watson leads the nation in assists per game (9.0), and that’s a big part of why he’s among the serious candidates for national player of the year. Justin Patton, for instance, has been on the Frosh Watch for a few weeks now. Check this silliness from Patton. What an angle.
They’ve had a top-12 résumé in college basketball for more than a month, and yet this is one of the quietest 16-1 teams ever, right?
Aside from when you read stuff here or catch a Creighton game, how much attention are you seeing on the Jays? That should be changing soon. This victory rounds out their résumé quite well. Next up is a random game against Div. II entry Truman State on Saturday, then at Xavier on Monday. Big-time Big East game. Xavier needs that one.
2. Experience, talent and shooting ability
Creighton entered the night No. 4 in American in 2- and 3-point shooting. Its 120.1 offensive rating was No. 6 in the country. Its effective field-goal percentage stood at 61.0, No. 2 in the country. This is a team with veterans (Watson, Marcus Foster), a promising freshman big in Patton, a sophomore in Khyri Thomas who had a double-double on Wednesday night. It’s a balance that’s turning this into, maybe, the best team in program history. Maybe.
There are 20 teams with legitimate expectations of being good enough to make the Final Four. If you’re talking national title, that number gets down to about 12. Creighton’s in that group. This was a no-nonsense victory against a good Butler team that beat Villanova last week.
3. Butler done in by the long ball
The Bulldogs entered the night shooting 39 percent from 3. That’s not amazing, but it’s pretty solid as a group. Instead of playing to that potential, the big-arena, top-15-game environment led BU to shoot 8 for 25 from deep, stunting their ability to stay in the game. It was constantly a contest of catchup for the Dawgs. No starter scored in double figures, and they managed seven free throws. A weird one. They’ll need to rebound and play well on Saturday at home. Xavier’s coming to town.