Missouri St.-Creighton Preview
Back home for the first time in 15 days following a tough road swing, the 21st-ranked Bluejays may ride their star again on Wednesday night when they try for a regular-season sweep of the Bears.
McDermott, who ranks among the national leaders in scoring (23.7 points per game) and 3-point percentage (50.0), finished with a season-high 39 points to lead Creighton to a 74-52 victory at Missouri State on Jan. 11.
The junior made 14 consecutive shots and finished 15 for 19 from the field for the second-highest point total of his career. He had 44 in a win at Bradley last January.
Creighton (18-3, 7-2 Missouri Valley) shot 57.4 percent from the floor and 52.9 percent (9 of 17) from beyond the arc at Missouri State. It leads the nation in both categories.
Now McDermott and the Bluejays get another shot at a Bears team that has allowed 69.0 points on 48.0 percent shooting over its last five games.
"They'll fight us defensively," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "They're going to grind it out and try to control the tempo, much like they did at their place. We have to make every possession count."
McDermott's club, however, has shown it can take care of business, winning 71 straight home games against losing teams.
After dropping the first two legs of a three-game road swing, Creighton bounced back behind McDermott's 21 points with an 81-51 rout of Southern Illinois on Sunday - the Bluejays' most lopsided road win since Feb. 19, 1974.
Jahenns Manigat, who had 11 points in the first meeting with the Bears, added 12 against the Salukis after going scoreless in the team's consecutive defeats.
Gregory Echenique, the team's leading rebounder (7.5 per game), added 12 points and 11 boards to help the Bluejays gain a 39-19 advantage on the glass.
That's certain to be an area of concern for Missouri State (6-15, 4-5). The Bears are 0-13 when they've been outrebounded - their minus-3.7 differential is last in the MVC - while the Bluejays are 16-0 when they've beaten teams on the boards.
Missouri State had won six straight in the series before Creighton took the last two meetings in Springfield.
While the Bluejays have won 44 of 50 at home the past three seasons, the Bears have handed them two of those losses. Missouri State, however, is just 1-7 on the road this season.
Senior Anthony Downing had 26 points to help the Bears snap a four-game losing streak with a 78-72 victory over Drake on Sunday.
Downing has averaged 17.3 points in nine conference games, but managed only 10 on 4-of-11 shooting in the first meeting with the Bluejays.
Gavin Thurman, one of Missouri State's four starting freshmen, is averaging 15.3 points on 50.0 percent shooting in his last four games.
"Those freshman are playing at a high level," Greg McDermott said. "They're a dangerous basketball team."
The Bears, though, have had their share of growing pains, ranking at the bottom of the MVC in scoring (60.2), field-goal percentage (40.6), 3-point percentage (30.9) and free-throw percentage (64.3).
It doesn't figure to get any easier against a Creighton team that ranks near the top of the conference defensively in each of those areas.
The Bears shot 37.9 percent overall and 21.7 percent from 3-point range in the first meeting.