Akron-Creighton Preview

With some of its thoughts likely on one player’s health,

Creighton will try to add to a string of impressive

performances.

While Josh Jones continues to recover, the 16th-ranked Bluejays

will seek a third easy win in as many games this month as they face

upstart Akron on Sunday.

Creighton blew out in-state rival Nebraska 64-42 on Thursday

after Jones fainted during pregame warmups. The senior guard,

averaging 7.0 points as a reserve, was taken from the Cornhuskers’

Devaney Center on a stretcher and to a Lincoln, Neb., hospital.

When he was a senior in high school, Jones developed a bacterial

infection in his heart and underwent surgery to replace his aortic

valve.

“With the history with his heart, we’re going to be very

cautious,” coach Greg McDermott said. “It was hard for our guys to

get focused, hard for me to get focused, when something like that

happens 20 minutes before game time.”

The school announced Friday that Jones was returning to Omaha

for further tests and released a statement in which he said, “I

want to let everyone know that I am in good spirits and doing

well.”

A timetable for Jones’ return remains unclear.

“His health is our number one priority right now, but he will be

off the court until results of some further testing come in,”

McDermott said.

The Bluejays (8-1) had only 12 bench points Thursday without

Jones – they’re averaging 29.0 – but had no problem beating another

quality opponent. Five days before winning on the road against a

6-1 Cornhuskers team, Creighton rolled to an 80-51 victory over a

Saint Joseph’s squad which already had one win over a ranked

team.

Those December victories came after the Bluejays closed last

month with a shocking 83-70 home loss to Boise State, which shot

60.4 percent from the field. They held Nebraska and Saint Joe’s to

a combined 34.9 percent.

“(The defense) has been huge for us,” said All-American forward

Doug McDermott, averaging 21.9 points after scoring 27 on Thursday.

“Everyone has just been on the same page. We just have to continue

to do that.”

Their next opponent has shot better than 49.0 percent in each of

its three consecutive wins. Akron (4-2), though, needed overtime to

beat Middle Tennessee 82-77 last Sunday in its most recent

game.

The Zips’ only two losses came in overtime on the road to

Coastal Carolina and Oklahoma State.

Freshman Jake Kretzer scored all eight of his points in the

extra period last Sunday while leading scorer Alex Abreu (12.2 ppg)

had a career high-tying 19 points, seven assists and four

steals.

Abreu helped Akron win the most recent meeting with Creighton,

scoring nine points in 14 minutes off the bench during a 76-67 home

victory Feb. 19, 2011. McDermott led the Bluejays with 16 points

and 16 rebounds, and he enters this matchup having topped 20 points

in five consecutive games.

McDermott has made 11 3-pointers on 16 attempts over his last

three contests.

Creighton won the only other meeting with the Zips in Omaha on

March 16, 2006, in an NIT first-round game.