MEN'S BASKETBALL: SETON HALL AT CREIGHTON
7 p.m. Saturday Century Link Center • FSN 1620 AM
Creighton has a chance to move forward Saturday if it can wipe the memories of a dramatic slip-up from its mind.
The Bluejays face Seton Hall in their annual "Pink Out" game at the Century Link Center. With a win, Creighton would get a little separation from a team right on its back in the Big East standings.
"We've said it all year that we're not happy that they picked us ninth in the preseason," Creighton guard Isaiah Zierden said. "We don't feel like the ninth-place team in the Big East.
"Every game gives a chance to show that we're not. This is really one of those games if you lose, we're moving toward where they picked us. If we win, we have to chance to move up."
Creighton (14-7) enters the 7 p.m. game tied with Providence for fourth place in the league with 5-3 records. Seton Hall, which dropped an 82-67 decision to the Bluejays earlier this month, is in sixth with a 4-4 league mark and a 14-6 overall record.
"We have a one-game lead on them in the conference standings and a chance to stretch it out to two and have the tiebreaker," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "This is a huge game for both teams.
"I hope our fans understand how huge it is and will have this place rocking Saturday night."
The atmosphere at the CenturyLink is usually amped up a notch or two for the "Pink Out" events the school holds to promote cancer awareness. The Bluejays probably would welcome the dash of extra energy as they try to bounce back from Tuesday's loss at Georgetown.
Creighton let a big win escape in Washington, D.C., when it squandered the 11-point lead it held when Maurice Watson scored with 2:32 to play. The Hoyas closed the game with a 15-3 run to pull out a dramatic 74-73 win.
The Bluejays have spent the last three days trying to piece through what contributed to the meltdown. They had Wednesday off, but McDermott said many of the players came around the office to dissect videotape of the Georgetown game.
McDermott liked what he saw in the team's practices Thursday and Friday.
"Our preparation has been good and the attitude was great today," McDermott said Friday. "The work ethic has been where it needs to be and the level of concentration has been solid.
"In our game, you don't have too much time to celebrate or to feel sorry for yourself. We have to turn the page pretty fast, and I think they've done that."
Erasing all the nightmarish memories from what happened Tuesday night might not be possible, given the loss underscored some things that have transpired in close games over the past season and a half.
Creighton is 3-14 since the start of the 2014-15 season in games decided by five points or fewer. The Bluejays are 0-4 in such contests this season.
"It gets old," Creighton forward Cole Huff said. "It happened to us a lot last year and it's happened again this year. We just haven't gotten that hump yet.
"As much as we've talked about it and said what we're going to do to try to prevent it, we just have to go do it now."
A combination of physical and mental mistakes contributed to the Bluejays' demise against the Hoyas.
"On any given night, a lot of crazy things happen in college basketball," Watson said. "It happened to us the other night, and we have to learn from it.
"In those situations, it's usually a more disciplined team, the more focused team and the team that plays hardest that usually pulls out those games. We still have a way to go, but there are positives we can take out of that game."
After the game, McDermott took blame for not shepherding his team to the win.
"I'm the one that make decisions whether we're in man or whether we're in zone or who goes in the game and who comes out," he said. "Sometimes as a coach, you have a game where everything goes perfect.
"Sometimes it doesn't. That's the reality of the business I'm in. Sometimes you kick yourself. Not all of those decisions are clear-cut. Sometimes you go with your gut, but I go back to evaluate after every game the decisions I made. This one was no different."
Creighton has only lost back-to-back games once this season, dropping December games at home to Arizona State and then on the road at Loyola. The Bluejays have followed up their other five losses with double-digit victories.
McDermott is banking on that type of resiliency against the Pirates. So are his players.
"As we watched film, everything that could have gone wrong at the end of the Georgetown game went wrong," Huff said. "That's all of us. We can think about it all we want, but that's not going to change anything.
"All we can worry about is who's next."
Embracing that approach could diminish chances of a Hoya hangover impacting Saturday night's game.
"We've had some tough losses before where we've bounced back," Zierden said. "We just have to find a way to focus on the right stuff. We can't dwell on the past, and I think we're doing that."
The game will be Greg McDermott's 200th as Creighton coach. He is 135-64 in his sixth season, trailing only Hall of Famer Arthur Schabinger (145-55) for the best winning percentage at the start of his Bluejay career.
A jersey auction that is part of the "Pink Out" event raised $16,527.90 for cancer research.
In the past five seasons, Creighton has donated $126,000 from the auctions. The highest bid in this year's auction was $1,397 for Marice Watson's No. 10 jersey.
Three of the past four games between Creighton and Seton Hall have been decided by one point. The Pirates won both games by a point last season, while Creighton scored a 72-71 win in Omaha in 2014. The Bluejays' road win earlier this season left Seton Hall with an 8-4 edge in the series.
Guard Isaiah Whitehead and forward Angel Delgado get a lot of the attention for Seton Hall, but coach Kevin Willard said guard Khadeen Carrington's development has him on the brink of stardom. The sophomore ranks ninth in the league in scoring with a 14.7 average and has scored 10 or more in 18 games this season. "He's worked hard on his game and he's developed nicely," Willard said. "As the years go on, he's going to get better and better to the point where he's scary good."