Creighton star closes in on player-of-year honors

Posted Friday, Feb. 14, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Rising

Kentucky: The No. 14 Wildcats have won four straight Southeastern Conference games, and seven of their last eight. Freshman Julius Randle is leading the team with 15.8 points and 9.9 boards a game, and Kentucky has a chance to knock off No. 3 Florida in a home game at 8 tonight.

Falling

Michigan: The Wolverines have lost two of their last four, at Indiana and at Iowa, and fell five spots to No. 15 in the AP poll last week. It could get much better, or worse, for Michigan this next week. The Wolverines play No. 21 Wisconsin and rival No. 9 Michigan State on Feb. 23. Both games are at home, which could give the Wolverines a chance to bounce back.

Games to watch

Oklahoma State at Baylor (8 p.m. Monday, ESPN): Oklahoma State, one of the preseason favorites to win the Big 12, has been in a tailspin, and Baylor hasn’t come near its preseason expectations. But these two teams are desperate for wins, and both are fun to watch on offense.

No. 19 Texas at No. 11 Iowa State (6 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN2): The Longhorns and Cyclones have both stumbled recently. Texas was upset on the road by Kansas State on Feb. 8, and Iowa State was embarrassed at West Virginia 102-77 Monday. This game will be huge for both.

No. 8 Duke at North Carolina (8 p.m. Thursday, ESPN): Let’s try this again. College basketball’s most hyped rivalry had to wait an extra week after winter weather forced the Tar Heels and Blue Devils to postpone. Let’s hope fans can dig through the snow to make it this week.

Projecting the top seeds

Arizona (West): The Wildcats (23-2) bounced back from their first loss of the season with a home sweep of Oregon and Oregon State last week, but were upset at Arizona State on Friday night.. Arizona should still be in line for a No. 1 seed.

Syracuse (East): Syracuse (24-0) needed a buzzer-beating shot from half-court to top Pittsburgh on the road, but no matter. The Orange is still unbeaten and at the top.

Wichita State (Midwest): All is well at Wichita State. The Shockers are 26-0 and haven’t been challenged since an overtime win against Missouri State on Jan. 11.

Florida (South): Florida (22-2) may not be an offensive leader (the Gators are No. 182 in the country with 71.2 points a game), but the Gators can shut teams down. They are No. 6 in points allowed (57.9 a game).

Key dates

March 16 Selection Sunday

March 16-18 First round (Dayton)

March 20, 22 Second-third rounds (Buffalo, Orlando Milwaukee, Spokane)

March 21, 23 Second-third rounds (Raleigh, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis)

March 27, 29 South Regional (Memphis) and West Regional (Anaheim)

March 28, 30 Midwest Regional (Indianapolis) and East Regional (New York)

April 5 National semifinals (Arlington)

April 7 Championship (Arlington)

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

The Creighton sports information team needed more than 3,000 words to fill out Doug McDermott’s career achievements page on the Creighton website. From All-America honors to multiple scoring achievements, McDermott has racked up accolades.

Those writers will have many more to type out in the next two months.

McDermott, a senior for the Blue Jays (20-4, 10-2 Big East), keeps piling up numbers and is the favorite to win this year’s John R. Wooden Award, given to the most outstanding player in the nation.

On Thursday, McDermott hit a last-minute 3-pointer to propel No. 18 Creighton past Butler. In the game, McDermott passed two more players on the NCAA all-time scoring list to reach No. 15 with 2,824 points.

McDermott, who scored 26 points against Butler, is averaging 25.3 points a game, second in the nation behind Antoine Mason, a junior at Niagara.

McDermott has the led the Blue Jays to the top of the Big East standings. They are a half-game behind No. 6 Villanova going into Sunday’s game against the Wildcats. McDermott had 23 points to help Creighton win 96-68 in the teams’ first meeting, one of Villanova’s two losses this season — the other was against No. 1 Syracuse.

Sunday, against Creighton’s lone remaining ranked opponent, McDermott will have a chance to gain more separation in the Wooden race.

McDermott is on pace to become just the eighth NCAA player to score more than 3,000 career points. If McDermott can keep pace, he will pass many all-time greats, including Larry Bird (2,850 points), Elvin Hayes (2,884 points), Danny Manning (2,951 points) and Oscar Robertson (2,973 points).

McDermott won’t be able to reach Pete Maravich, however, who finished his career at LSU with 3,667 points. No matter. Enjoy McDermott’s college run. Creighton has six more regular-season games before the Big East and NCAA tournaments.

Here are two other players to watch as the season winds down. Both have a chance to upset McDermott, who is also in the running for the Naismith and Oscar Robertson trophies:

Jabari Parker, freshman, Duke. Parker is scoring 19.2 points and grabbing 8.5 rebounds a game to prove he was worth the hype he carried from high school. Parker has seemed raw at times, but he has become the No. 8 Blue Devils’ leader and one of the top players in the nation.

C.J. Fair, senior, Syracuse. Fair is the leader on the best team in the nation, undefeated Syracuse. Fair is averaging 16.7 points and 5.8 rebounds a game. He has also come up big for the Orange, including hitting a 3-pointer to set up a last-second win against Pittsburgh on Wednesday night and scoring 28 points in Syracuse’s overtime win against Duke on Feb. 1.

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