Wichita St.-Creighton Preview

Riding an 11-game winning streak a week ago, Creighton suddenly

finds itself trailing in the Missouri Valley Conference.

If they can get back on track quickly, though, the 17th-ranked

Bluejays would regain a share of first place Saturday when they

return home for a showdown with Wichita State.

After losing its conference opener, Creighton (21-4, 11-3)

rolled through the MVC with 11 straight victories until a

last-second loss at Northern Iowa last Saturday. The Bluejays

followed that with perhaps their worst offensive performance of the

season in Tuesday’s 65-57 defeat at Evansville, which dropped them

one game behind the conference-best Shockers (21-4, 12-2).

Creighton still leads the nation in field-goal percentage

(50.8), but that figure has taken a major dip this week. The

Bluejays shot 42.1 percent in their 65-62 defeat last weekend and

fared even worse on Tuesday, converting only 40.4 percent of their

shots – including a season-worst 4 of 22 from 3-point range.

They missed 16 of their final 20 shots in that game. With 21

points, MVC leading scorer Doug McDermott was Creighton’s only

player with more than 11.

“We have to get ourselves right,” coach Greg McDermott said.

“Every team in the country goes through times like this. Sometimes

it’s in November, sometimes it’s in December. You hope it’s not in

February, but that’s where we are right now. We’ve got to work hard

to get it fixed.”

That won’t be easy against a surging Shockers squad that’s

coming off an impressive 82-57 rout of Northern Iowa on Wednesday,

although Creighton already beat Wichita State on the road 68-61 on

Dec. 31.

“It’s a huge game for us,” the Creighton coach said. “We have a

chance to get back tied and hold the tiebreaker. We’re in a

position to control our destiny.”

Joe Ragland made five of Wichita State’s season high-tying 12

3-pointers Wednesday and scored 19 points during his team’s third

straight win. David Kyles, who missed 16 of 17 shots over the

previous three games, was 5 of 5 and made all four shots from

beyond the arc while contributing 16 points off the bench.

“When we shoot it like that, we’ve always said that we’re a

tough team to handle,” said coach Gregg Marshall, whose squad has

won 19 of 21. “It’s going to make teams think about how they want

to handle our offense.”

Creighton contained the Shockers earlier this season, limiting

them to a season-low 33.3 percent shooting and a 5-of-26

performance from 3-point range.

At the other end, Wichita State held Doug McDermott to 12 points

– matching his season low – but Antoine Young had 19 while helping

the Bluejays rally from a 39-31 halftime deficit.

Creighton has won 22 of 23 at the CenturyLink Center, but had a

17-game home win streak over the Shockers snapped just before

starting that stretch. Wichita State is 7-1 in true road games this

season – with the lone defeat coming in triple overtime at Drake –

and 16-2 since the end of 2010.

“We can’t lose again. We’ve got to go up there and win. That’s

just it,” Ragland said.

Kyles had 13 points off the bench during a 68-54 win in Omaha

last season, and Toure Murry added 12 points and 10 rebounds.

McDermott had seven points – one of seven career single-digit

scoring performances in 64 games – and center Gregory Echenique was

Creighton’s only player in double figures with 12 points.

Creighton leads the series 53-43, but Wichita State has

prevailed in four of the last seven meetings, including its first

sweep in 23 seasons in 2010-11.