Bluiett looks to shake off struggles for No. 10 Xavier
CINCINNATI -- What is wrong with Trevon Bluiett isn't a question Xavier coach Chris Mack expected to be asked in January.
After two straight losses at Providence and top-ranked Villanova in which Bluiett scored a combined 23 points and was 8 for 25 shooting, Mack said that Bluiett isn't playing with confidence, part of which could be attributed to a minor shoulder issue he's been dealing with for a few weeks.
No. 10 Xavier will need Bluiett to shake off his slump Saturday when it hosts No. 25 Creighton at Cintas Center.
"I have the utmost confidence in him as a player," Mack said. "Every player goes through times where things don't go well for them. He has the talent and the character, he'll be fine."
But, if the Musketeers are going to get back on track, they need their star to perform at his customary high level. But, Bluiett is not alone for Xavier (15-3, 3-2 Big East).
Forward Kaiser Gates who is shooting 43 percent from 3-point range, making 36 of 84 attempts, was 1 for 4 from 3-point range in the losses to the Friars and Wildcats.
Mack said there could be lineup changes in an effort to spark his team and avoid a third straight conference loss.
"I'm always going to consider changes," he said. "We're not going to stand still when we lose games."
The Big East doesn't afford teams much time to figure things out. The Bluejays were the first team to beat Xavier three times at Cintas Center, where XU is 11-0 this season and 239-35 overall.
Xavier leads the all-time series 13-12, including a 7-6 mark at home. Of the previous 25 meetings, 18 have been within five points in the final minute, including the last four.
On Jan. 16 of last season, the Musketeers rallied from an 11-point deficit with 7:32 to play and had a chance to win the game in the closing seconds, but failed to convert three offensive rebounds in a 72-67 loss.
Creighton (14-3, 4-1) marches into Cintas Center sitting in first place in the Big East, a half-game ahead of Villanova and Seton Hall. The Bluejays have won four straight games, while playing three times in a span of six days.
"This league is so good," Creighton coach Greg McDermott, following Tuesday's 85-74 win over Butler "I'm really proud of our team. There's no quit in them. We've just got to keep fighting."
The Bluejays continue to be led by senior guard Marcus Foster, who averages 19 points per game while shooting 43.2 percent from 3-point range. He scored 21 of his 23 points in the first half Tuesday, and has averaged nearly 18 points per game in his career versus Xavier.
A standing-room only crowd is expected Saturday at Cintas Center, where the Musketeers are averaging nearly 200 fans above seating capacity this season.
"Creighton is a really good team," Mack said. "We've got a lot to work on. We have to be a better version of ourselves (on Saturday). Eager to turn the page."
Updated January 13, 2018