Xavier's Justin Martin fouls Creighton's Doug McDermott on Jan. 12, 2014. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
The ninth-ranked Bluejays and Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott know Xavier is lying in wait for Saturday's Big East matchup at Cintas Center.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Ninth-ranked Creighton knows Xavier is lying in wait.
The Bluejays (23-4, 13-2 Big East) play Saturday at sold-out Cintas Center, where they're selling standing-room tickets for the first time since the building opened in 2000.
The Musketeers (19-9, 9-6) have won 15 of 16 at home.
Most NCAA tournament forecasters have the Musketeers on the bubble. A win over Creighton would put a big star on their resume. "Their crowd is going to be into it, and we have to be ready to match that," said Doug McDermott, Creighton's Player of the Year candidate. "We have to match the intensity. They're going to sell it out, and that place historically has been a tough place to play."
McDermott, the nation's leading scorer, goes into Saturday off seven straight games of 25 points or more. He scored 35 in the first game against Xavier - a 95-89 Creighton win in Omaha last month - and he knows he'll be a marked man by the Musketeers and their fans.
"I love it," he said. "It's cool, just having everyone against you." The Bluejays have won four straight since a road loss to St. John's. They escaped with a 72-71 home win over Seton Hall last Sunday. "Nothing has been easy," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "You can't have a game where you don't play at your best because, if you do, you're going to get beat. If you're not quite yourselves, you try to figure out a way to hang on. The Seton Hall game was proof of that. We weren't exactly as good as we'd like to be."
Xavier is coming off a big 65-53 win at St. John's Tuesday. Freshman forward Jalen Reynolds led the way with career highs in points (17) and rebounds (16).
"That game boosted his confidence," said Semaj Christon, Xavier's star guard. "Hopefully he'll keep doing it while we're trying to make it to the tournament."
Reynolds wasn't a factor in the last Creighton game. He played three minutes and didn't score.
Christon almost matched McDermott in the last game with 27 points.
Asked what coach Chris Mack's message to the Musketeers has been this week, Christon said:
"Play strong. We're a bigger team. We're a faster team. Be the bigger team."