NCAA BK

Sat, Dec 15, 2012 - 11:00 PM ET
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Creighton-California Preview

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Creighton appears back on track, bouncing back from its lone loss with three lopsided wins.

California is eager for another shot at knocking off a ranked team after squandering a golden opportunity last weekend.

All-American Doug McDermott looks to build on one of his best shooting performances and lead the 16th-ranked Bluejays to a fourth straight win Saturday when they visit the Golden Bears.

Creighton (9-1) averages 80.2 points and is one of the nation's best shooting teams at 51.9 percent, and much of the offense is run through McDermott.

The reigning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year had 30 points - including 20 in the first half - in Sunday's 77-61 win over Akron. He finished 10 of 15 from the floor, including a career-best 6 of 8 from beyond the arc while posting the ninth 30-point game of his career.

Four of McDermott's baskets were on assists from Grant Gibbs, who finished with eight assists, seven points, six rebounds and no turnovers. Gibbs, who is averaging 6.6 assists, has 27 assists and one turnover over his last three games. His 7.3 assist-to-turnover ratio is second-best in the country.

"They're kind of gimme assists," Gibbs said. "It's not like I'm creating spectacular plays. It's Doug coming off a down screen and I'm throwing it to him. I'm trying to make simply plays and get the ball to guys who put the ball in the basket consistently."

McDermott certainly fits that description. The junior is averaging 26.7 points and 58.7 percent shooting in the three games since an 83-70 loss to Boise State on Nov. 28.

The Golden Bears (6-2) wasted a chance Sunday for their first home win over a ranked team since 2009, with a 76-75 loss to No. 20 UNLV. They forced an airball with 1.2 seconds remaining but allowed the Runnin' Rebels' Quintrell Thomas to grab the offensive rebound and convert the go-ahead score.

Junior forward Richard Solomon took responsibility for giving up the rebound, but it was one of 13 offensive boards surrendered by Cal, which was outrebounded 38-30.

"We have to be more physical at the defensive end," said Solomon, who matched his career high with 14 points in addition to his team-leading eight rebounds. "Contain our man, box out and we have to fight for the ball. We have to go up and get it, we can't wait for it to bounce or come down, we have to get it in the air."

Allen Crabbe, the Pac-12's leading scorer at 21.9 points, had 18 and was 4 of 8 from the field Sunday, but Justin Cobbs finished with 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting for the second straight game. Cobbs averages 17.8 points for Cal, which suffered an 81-56 loss at Wisconsin before the UNLV defeat.

The Bears have lost six straight in Berkeley to ranked foes since beating No. 22 Washington 86-71 on Feb. 5, 2009.

"(Sunday) was our perfect day to show that we could beat those top teams but it just didn't happen," Crabbe said after losing to UNLV.

Creighton will again be without guard Josh Jones, who will undergo a procedure on Tuesday to restore a normal heart rhythm. He passed out before the team's game against Nebraska on Dec. 6 due to an atrial flutter.

A test next month will help decide if he can play again.

"He's like a brother to all of us," McDermott said. "We're playing for him. The one time you feel like you're tired, you're really not tired, because we're fighting for him. That's what he would be doing

"So we'll continue to fight through and hopefully get him back."

Cal won the teams' two previous meetings, the most recent being a 70-49 home victory in 1987.

Tagged: California, Creighton, UNLV, Grant Gibbs, Doug McDermott

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