No. 5 Marquette hopes to have Tyler Kolek vs. No. 12 Creighton

Although it has won 11 of its past 12 games, No. 5 Marquette finds itself on pins and needles heading into Saturday’s meeting with No. 12 Creighton in Omaha, Neb.

The Golden Eagles (22-6, 13-4 Big East) are anxiously awaiting an update on the availability of reigning Big East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek, who exited Wednesday’s 91-69 rout of Providence in the second half due to an oblique injury.

Kolek had 12 points and six assists before his departure. He is averaging 15.0 points and a Big East-leading 7.6 assists per game this season.

“Don’t know exactly the extent of his injury,” Marquette coach Shaka Smart said. “But he went out there, you guys saw, he wasn’t able to stay in the game.”

Even if Kolek isn’t good to go on Saturday, Smart is still confident in his backcourt, which also features Kam Jones, Stevie Mitchell and Chase Ross.

Jones has averaged 21.7 points over the past seven games, Mitchell has nabbed 11 steals over the past five games as the team’s defensive anchor and Ross is coming off a 12-point performance against the Friars.

“The key for us is being there for one another,” Smart said. “And having a genuine belief in each other and in what we’re trying to do.

“Even amidst the circumstances and the twists and turns.”

It’s been quite the rollercoaster for the Bluejays (21-8, 12-6), too.

Creighton cruised to an 85-66 victory over then-No. 1 UConn on Feb. 20, but the euphoria was short-lived, as the Bluejays then stumbled to an 80-66 loss against St. John’s five days later.

However, Creighton bounced back with Wednesday’s 85-64 drubbing of Seton Hall, getting 23 points, six rebounds and four blocks from Ryan Kalkbrenner. Baylor Scheierman had 20 points and 11 boards in the win, and Trey Alexander also recorded a double-double (15 points, 10 assists).

Bluejays coach Greg McDermott is hoping his team brings the same kind of energy it did against the Huskies and Pirates to Saturday’s meeting.

“Every time we play Marquette, it’s a pretty high-level game,” McDermott said. “They obviously got off to the great start this season, they had some injuries and they had a little bit of a rough patch, but, man, they got over it fast.

“Shaka appears to have them playing their best at this point of the season.”

McDermott even believes the Golden Eagles could be one of the last teams standing in the NCAA Tournament.

“We’re playing a team that’s got a chance to go the Final Four. They’re that talented,” he said. “We’re gonna have to be really locked in.”

Scheierman leads Creighton with team highs in points (18.2) and rebounds (8.6) per game. Alexander is averaging 17.6 points, and Kalkbrenner is averaging 17.1 to go along with 7.4 boards per contest.

Marquette owns a three-game winning streak against the Bluejays, prevailing 72-67 when the teams last played on Dec. 30. The Golden Eagles also lead the all-time series 59-39 and are 6-2 in Omaha dating back to 2016.