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Thursday, November 28, 11 p.m. (ET)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Titan Gym (4,000) -- Fullerton, California. Television: ESPN 2. Home Record: Creighton 3-0, ASU 5-0. Away Record: Creighton 1-0, ASU 1-0. Neutral Record: Creighton 0-0, ASU 0-0. Conference Record: Creighton 0-0, ASU 0-0. Series Record: Arizona State leads, 4-3.
GAME NOTES: The 20th-ranked Creighton Bluejays and the Arizona State Sun Devils meet at Titan Gym on Thanksgiving night in opening-round action of the Wooden Legacy.
Awaiting the winner in Friday's semifinal round will be the survivor of the College of Charleston/San Diego State matchup. The losers will face off in the consolation round.
Creighton has backed up its national ranking with a perfect 4-0 record through the first three weeks. After claiming a come-from-behind win at Saint Joseph's on Nov. 16 (83-79), the Bluejays came back home on Nov. 23 to capture a solid 82-72 victory over Tulsa to keep their unblemished ledger alive.
Arizona State has also yet to lose a game this season, winning each of its first six outings for the first time since 1980. The Sun Devils' most impressive victory came in their latest bout, as they toppled nationally- ranked Marquette at home on Monday night, 78-77.
The Sun Devils hold a 4-3 advantage over the Bluejays in the all-time series, although Creighton won the last matchup in the championship game of the 2012 Las Vegas Invitational, 87-73.
The Bluejays suffered a bit of scare versus Tulsa, as they trailed by just one at the half, but they opened up the second stanza with a 13-4 run to make it a double-digit advantage and they never looked back. Doug McDermott proved why he was a preseason First Team All-American and a national Player of the Year contender with a monster 33-point, 15-rebound effort, as he shot 9-of-17 from the field and 12-of-15 from the foul line. Austin Chatman was also strong in the victory with 19 points and nine assists. Creighton is one of the top offensive teams in the nation in the early going, as it ranks ninth in scoring (92.0 ppg), eighth in field goal percentage and 10th in 3-point percentage (.460). McDermott has been outstanding, averaging 27.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game while draining 50 percent of his long-range buckets. Ethan Wragge (11.3 ppg) and Chatman (11.0 ppg, 6.3 apg) are strong complementary options.
As impressive as the Sun Devils' victory over Marquette was, they nearly blew an early 15-point lead when they just one point in the game's final 3:56, but they were able to hang on for the one-point decision. As usual, Jahii Carson was the catalyst, as he poured in 25 points on 9-of-17 from the field while also dishing out five assists. Jermaine Marshall was also outstanding with 21 points, while Jordan Bachynski was a game-changer in the frontcourt with 14 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks. It's easy to see why Arizona State is off to a such a strong start considering it not only scores 84.8 point per game on just shy of 50 percent field goal efficiency, but it also holds its opponents to only 65.0 points at the other end of the floor. Carson's campaign has been nearly flawless across the board, as he's tallying 23.0 points, 5.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.0 steal per game, while boasting impressive percentages from the field (.548), 3-point range (.560) and the foul line (.759). Carson's presence is able to free up Marshall (16.7 ppg) for open looks, and Bachynski (14.0 ppg, 11.8 rpg) is fifth in the nation with 4.8 blocks per game.
With star power gracing both benches, this is sure to be a fun one to watch. With Carson looking like an All-American and Bachynski a defensive difference- maker in the front court, the Sun Devils are a team on the rise, and if they can find a way to slow down McDermott, they'll be in great position to pull out a victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona State 83, Creighton 80
11/28 10:34:22 ET
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