By: Jacob Padillia
Friday afternoon's second round match-up between the West Region's No. 3 seed Creighton and No. 14 seed Louisiana promises to be an up-tempo and high-scoring affair.
The Ragin' Cajuns are 13th in the nation in scoring at 81.4 points per game. "They can really score the ball," Creighton senior guard Grant Gibbs said. "They can get up and down and they play at a great pace."
The Jays aren't far behind at 79.5 points per game and are the No. 1 team in offensive efficiency according to Ken Pomeroy. So how do the Ragin' Cajuns plan to slow down the Bluejays? They are going with a good offense as the best defense.
"I guess good offense leads to good defense," Louisiana junior guard Elfrid Payton said. "So if we're making shots we'll be able to get back and have our defense set."
Payton leads the way for Louisiana. The 6-foot-3-inch guard averages 19.1 points, 6.0 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game and also took home defensive player of the year honors in the Sun Belt. Payton won a gold medal with the Team USA U-19 squad this past summer, so he is no stranger to winning on big stages.
"He's a really good guard," Creighton senior guard Jahenns Manigat said. "He reminds us of Semaj Christon for Xavier the way he plays. He likes to get up and down in transition. He's great in that 15-feet-and-in area."
The Jays aren't going to rely on one player to slow down Payton.
"With a player of his caliber, if you don't kind of throw some different pitches at him, he'll be able to kind of be comfortable all night. So I think different guys are going to have the job of staying in front of him an making him finish over the top of us as opposed to getting easy stuff down in the lane."
Louisiana isn't a one-man show, however. Sophomore forward Shawn Long averaged 18.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks this season and at 6-feet-9-inches and 245 pounds, he is going to be a handful for the Creighton front line.
Louisiana may have a dynamic duo, but Creighton counter's with the best player in the country in senior forward Doug McDermott. Creighton's All-American averages 269 points per game and is fifth all time on the NCAA scoring chart.
"He can keep you awake at night, that's for sure," Louisiana head coach Bob Marlin said about McDermott.
"You almost have to throw the kitchen sink at him and try a little bit of everything."
McDermott is surrounded by four other upperclassmen – three seniors and one junior – who all shoot 39.5 percent or better from 3-point range. As a team, the Jays lead the nation in 3-point percentage (42.1), 3-point makes (342) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.78) and were second in assists per game (17.7).
"They've got an extremely efficient offensive team," Marlin said. "They have great spacing. Greg [McDermott] does a great job with his team on the offensive end. We're going to have to make shots and limit some of theirs. We'll have to stay close in the 3-point game."
The game is set to tip off half an hour after Baylor and Nebraska finish up, or approximately 2:10. The game will be on TruTV and Marv Albert, Steve Kerr and Craig Sager will be on the call.