S. Illinois-Creighton Preview

Despite some tense moments, Creighton has handled one of the

busier stretches of its season without a loss – so far.

The 23rd-ranked Bluejays will try to earn their fourth victory

in nine days and Doug McDermott will attempt to become one of the

fastest to score 1,000 points in program history Sunday night

against visiting Southern Illinois.

After pulling out a 63-60 win over Northern Iowa on Tuesday,

Creighton showed perhaps a little fatigue as it nearly blew an

18-point lead during an 87-78 victory at Illinois State three days

later.

The Bluejays (15-2, 5-1 Missouri Valley) let the Redbirds get

within two points with 1:01 remaining but benefited from three

technical fouls in the final 33 seconds during their fifth straight

victory.

“It’s tough to get road wins in this league. We were really glad

to get out with a road win. It’s going to do some tremendous things

in the end,” guard Antoine Young said. “It’s real important (to end

the stretch well). It’s definitely a long stretch of games.”

Young was one of five Creighton players in double figures Friday

with 13 points and McDermott had a team-best 20 to move within

seven points of 1,000. The sophomore forward, set to play in his

57th game, is trying to become the school’s fastest to reach that

milestone since former NBA player Bob Portman and current Charlotte

Bobcats coach Paul Silas did it in the 1960s.

More recently, it took Rodney Buford 59 games to accomplish that

feat in 1997.

McDermott likely is equally focused on beating Southern Illinois

(6-11, 3-3). The Salukis have won three of five since a four-game

skid, beating Indiana State 73-67 on Friday.

“We’ve done a good job of taking it a day at a time. We’ve been

working hard and focusing on the scouting reports,” McDermott said.

“I think (Southern Illinois) is going to come in hungry so we have

to bring our all.”

The Salukis have dropped seven in a row in the series and four

straight in Omaha. They suffered a 69-50 loss there Feb. 13 as

McDermott scored 15 points and Creighton’s Gregory Echenique, who

has three straight double-digit rebounding performances, had 12

points and 14 boards.

The Bluejays, though, haven’t had as easy of a time in some of

the other recent meetings, with three of the last six going into

overtime. Among those was a 72-66 road victory last January.

Echenique had 16 points and nine rebounds in that game, while

the Salukis’ current top scorer and rebounder, Mamadou Seck,

registered 18 points and 14 boards.

Seck, a senior from Senegal, is averaging 13.6 points and 8.2

rebounds, the latter good for second in the Missouri Valley behind

McDermott’s 8.4.

“We have to find another energy to play against Southern on

Sunday. They had a nice win against Indiana State. They’re 3-3 in

the league and playing much better basketball,” Creighton coach

Greg McDermott said. “They’re coming in with confidence.”

Creighton has won 26 of its 40 home games against the Salukis

and leads the series 49-36.

Southern Illinois has lost six in a row to ranked teams since a

65-62 win over then-No. 14 Drake on Feb. 13, 2008. The Salukis were

ranked 16th themselves for their last road win over a Top 25 team,

topping then-No. 13 Butler 68-64 on Feb. 17, 2007.