OMAHA, NEB (LEARFIELD-WSAU) Marquette will play its first men's basketball game in the new Big East Conference tonight at Creighton. Coach Buzz Williams says his Golden Eagles will run into a buzz-saw at the Century-Link Center in Omaha, where a fired-up crowd is expected for a nine p-m start in the final hours of 2013.
Creighton is 10-and-2 with a five-game winning streak. Doug McDermott, the Big East pre-season player-of-the-year, is the nation's second-leading scorer with almost 25 points a game. McDermott said he remembers how fired up the home crowd was last March when he scored 41 in Creighton's Missouri Valley Conference finale -- a win over eventual Final Four team Wichita State.
Eighteen days later, Creighton officially joined the re-organized Big East along with Butler and Xavier. Marquette figures to be Creighton's biggest rival in the new league. They've played each other 76 times, but not since 1998.
Williams says his players have been talking about Creighton's pumped-up atmosphere -- and they know how McDermott can light things up, so they'll be ready.
Unranked Marquette comes in at 8-and-5, after losing four starters from a team that reached the N-C-A-A's Elite Eight. Still, they have two solid front-court players in Davante Gardner and Jamil Wilson -- both seniors who've combined to average 25 points and 11 rebounds.