Creighton Beats Jason Preston, Ohio; Advances to Face Gonzaga in Sweet 16

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2021

Creighton guard Marcus Zegarowski (11) celebrates a three-point basket against Ohio in the first half of a second-round game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Monday, March 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

March Madness has been all about the Cinderellas this year, but Marcus Zegarowski just stole Ohio's glass slippers.

The Creighton guard was fantastic in Monday's second-round matchup versus the 13th-seeded Bobcats, leading the fifth-seeded Bluejays to a 72-58 win and a berth in the Sweet 16.

Awaiting them will be the West Region's top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs, they of the perfect 28-0 record.

If Creighton shoots like it did against Ohio (9-of-21 from three) and plays equally stifling defense, however, it'll be a tough out for Gonzaga. If nothing else, players like Zegarowski, Denzel Mahoney and Damien Jefferson make it a difficult matchup for most teams.

Don't sleep on these Bluejays. All five starters finished with double-digit points Monday. That balance makes them dangerous. 

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Ohio was a great story after upsetting Virginia in the first round. Creighton made sure there weren't any fairy-tale endings for the Bobcats, however.


Key Stats

Marcus Zegarowski, CREI: 20 points (4-of-7 from three)

Christian Bishop, CREI: 12 points, 15 rebounds

Damien Jefferson, CREI: 15 points, five rebounds, three assists

Jason Preston, Ohio: Four points, nine rebounds, seven assists, four turnovers, 1-of-10 from the field

Dwight Wilson III, Ohio: 12 points, nine rebounds

Ben Vander Plas, Ohio: Nine points, 10 rebounds


Zegarowski Is A Bucket

Don't leave this man open. You'll regret it. 

Zegarowski came into Monday shooting 41.5 percent from three, so it wasn't surprising that he torched Ohio from the perimeter. He's having an excellent tournament after putting up 17 points and eight assists vs. UC Santa Barbara in the first round. 

Creighton is a talented team, but Zegarowski is the leader. If he continues to play at this level, look out. 


A Tough End To Preston's Season

The Ohio point guard, former Detroit Pistons blogger and potential NBA prospect has been one of the stories of the tournament after nearly posting a triple-double vs. Virginia in Ohio's first-round win (11 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists). 

But Creighton clamped down on Ohio's leading scorer and best player Monday, forcing him into a tough offensive night. 

Better days are ahead for Preston, whose size at the point guard position (6'4"), playmaking (7.3 assists per game) and perimeter shooting (40.5 percent from three) have given him a legitimate chance to come off the board in the second round of this year's NBA draft. But if this is his final game for the Bobcats, it was a tough way to go out. 

Credit to Creighton for doing a solid job making life difficult for him Monday. 


What's Next?

Creighton will face Gonzaga on Sunday in Sweet 16 action (time TBD).