(16) Creighton (9-1) at California (6-2)
Saturday, December 15, 11 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Haas Pavilion (11,877) -- Berkeley, California. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: Creighton 6-1, Cal 2-1. Away Record: Creighton 1-0, Cal 1-1. Neutral Record: Creighton 2-0, Cal 3-0. Conference Record: Creighton 0-0, Cal 0-0. Series Record: California leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The No. 16 Creighton Bluejays have a tough test this Saturday when they visit Haas Pavilion for non-conference action with the California Golden Bears.
Greg McDermott's Bluejays improved to 9-1 their last time out by defeating Akron by 16 points at home. The victory was the third in a row for the Bluejays, whose only loss came in Omaha to Boise State. The Bluejays have managed to win by a double-digit margin in every other game this season, including their bouts with Wisconsin, Arizona State, and Saint Joseph's. Creighton is one of the best teams on the offensive end in the nation with an average of 80.2 ppg on 51.9 percent shooting from the field. Its opponents have managed only 61 ppg.
After winning six straight to begin the season, California was blown out by Wisconsin (81-56) before suffering a tough, one-point setback versus UNLV on Sunday. Mike Montgomery's team was impressive early on as it won the DirecTV Classic in Anaheim, but its recent struggles has lowered its scoring to a modest 72.4 ppg. The Golden Bears are limiting opponents to 66.2 ppg on 40.6 percent shooting from the field.
This will be just the third encounter between these schools on the basketball court. California won both previous meetings, the most recent of which took place in 1943.
The Bluejays showed off their ability to hurt teams from long range versus Akron by knocking down 10-of-22 attempts from three-point range. The Zips made only 4-of-17 3-point attempts in the contest which allowed Creighton to cruise to the easy win. Doug McDermott poured in a game-high 30 points, grabbed six rebounds, and dealt out four assists in the decision. The consensus First Team All-American and National Player of the Year candidate is ranked fourth in the nation in scoring with 22.7 ppg. Center Gregory Echenique is contributing 10.5 points and 7.1 boards per contest and Grant Gibbs is dishing out 6.6 assists per game.
Junior guard Allen Crabbe scored 18 points to pace Cal in its one-point loss to UNLV. The Golden Bears held a narrow lead before the Runnin' Rebels' Quintrell Thomas scored the game-winning put-back with 1.2 seconds remaining. Junior forward Richard Solomon matched his season-high with 14 points to go along with eight rebounds, but it was his lack of boxing out that allowed UNLV to steal the win. The Bears shot just under 54 percent from the foul line (15 of 28). Crabbe is leading the Pac-12 in scoring with 21.9 ppg, while fellow junior guard Justin Cobbs is ranked sixth with 17.8 ppg. The dynamic duo has accounted for 54.7 percent of the team's points this season. Forward David Kravish (6.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg) is the Bears' best rebounding forward.
California is clearly a much better team at home, but it will have its hands full with the father-son McDermott duo. The Bluejays are one of the top mid- major teams in the NCAA this season and they have a golden opportunity to prove it against Cal. The Golden Bears will need to force someone other than McDermott to beat them.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Creighton 80, California 75
12/15 10:33:06 ET