CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — Creighton’s third straight road game was nothing
like the first two. After a pair of losses by a combined eight points,
this one was wrapped up by halftime.
Doug McDermott had 21 points and 10
rebounds and the 17th-ranked Bluejays shot 63 percent, bouncing back
with a dominant effort in an easy 81-51 victory at struggling Southern
Illinois on Sunday night.
“We’ve had a rough week so far,” coach Greg McDermott said. “So it’s just good for us to get back in the win column.”
Gregory Echenique added 12 points and 11
rebounds and the Bluejays (18-3, 7-2 MVC) were 12 for 20 from 3-point
range with Ethan Wragge hitting his first four attempts and Jahenns
Manigat going 4 for 4. Creighton also dominated on the boards with a
39-19 cushion and has won 10 straight in the series while shaking off
setbacks at Wichita State and Drake.
“Those two losses hurt, real close
games,” Doug McDermott said. “But we didn’t change anything. We got back
to the practice floor and did a good job of locking in.”
Greg McDermott said the Bluejays played looser than the past couple of games.
“I just liked our pace. I liked what
the guys did coming off the bench, I liked our attitude on the bench,”
the coach said. “Communicate and have some fun and you’ll be surprised
how things will fall into place.”
Desmar Jackson scored Southern
Illinois’ first 10 points then later on went 21 minutes without scoring
before finishing with 16 for the Salukis (8-12, 1-8). Southern Illinois
has lost nine of 10 under first-year coach Barry Hinson, who has a
starting five with no one taller than 6-foot-5.
“When you’re down, everyone wants to beat you up,” Hinson said. “They could have beaten us a lot worse.”
As it was, the 30-point margin of
defeat was the third-largest at SIU Arena, which opened in 1964, and the
largest since a 33-point loss to Saint Louis in 1989. Hinson thanked
coach McDermott for emptying his bench early.
“Our guys are extremely fragile right
now and I think he realizes it,” Hinson said. “That’s as good an act of
sportsmanship as you can have.”
Doug McDermott said he was returning
the favor for an old friend. McDermott remembers when his wife was
fighting breast cancer seven years ago and Hinson was at Missouri State,
Hinson sent a card and flowers every 10 days.
“I hope you understand what you have in Barry Hinson,” McDermott told reporters. “He will light a fire under this program.”
McDermott was 9 for 13, Echenique was 5 for 6 and Grant Gibbs and Manigat were a combined 9 for 9 for the Bluejays.
Creighton shot 74 percent in the first
half while taking an 18-point lead, reminiscent of last season’s matchup
at Southern Illinois in which the Bluejays shot a Missouri
Valley-record 77.5 percent. McDermott, the second-leading scorer in the
nation with a 23.8-point average, was 7 for 8 with a pair of 3-pointers
and had 16 points in 14 minutes.
“I liked our defense to start,” Doug
McDermott said. “I guess we were a little sloppy there to begin, but I
thought we really focused on details in the scouting report. We knew
everything that was coming.”
Echenique scored in double figures for
the first time in six games and earned his fifth double double of the
season. Wragge had been a combined 5 for 18 his previous four games and
totaled nine points the last two games.
“It’s big,” Doug McDermott said,
“especially with the kind of attention me and Gregory draw inside. “You
just hope when it matters, they’ll continue to knock them down.”
The Salukis trailed 11-10 thanks to the
hot start by Jackson, who hit his first four shots with a pair of
3-pointers. But Jackson missed five of his last six in the half and
Southern Illinois had no one to pick up the slack.
Southern Illinois guard Jeff Early served a one-game suspension for a flagrant foul with intent to injure at Northern Iowa.
“He let our team down,” Hinson said. “I don’t condone that.”