Bluejays set sights on Panthers in MVC tilt

Pre-season Missouri Valley Conference favorite ranked Bluejays host another strong MVC team in Northern Iowa at the CenturyLink Center Omaha.

Northern Iowa has rebounded from a three-game skid with back-to-back wins against MVC competition. Most recently the Panthers took down Indiana State in convincing fashion 65-48. Northern Iowa will welcome in Missouri State to continue its MVC slate after facing Creighton.

After being upset at home by Missouri State in its MVC opener, Creighton has put together three straight conference wins with an impressive 68-61 win on the road over Wichita State. Creighton heads North to take on Illinois State in its next matchup.

Creighton holds a 27-15 lead in the all-time series with NIU. The teams split the regular season series last year, but Creighton won when the two met in the MVC Tournament.

Northern Iowa's leading scorer Anthony James has bounced back from a four-point performance in Northern Iowa's New Year's Day loss to Evansville by scoring in double figures in each of the past two games. James scored 26 in the Panthers latest win over Drake. It was two points off the season-high 28 he scored in a December 3rd win over Colorado State. James is now averaging 14.4 points per game on the season. Junior forward Jake Koch has also come back from a disappointing beginning to the new year. After scoring zero points in a loss to Illinois State on December 29th, Koch still struggled putting in only six against Evansville. In the past two games Koch is scoring 14.5 points per game along with eight rebounds in each contest. Koch has been the team's leading rebounder, post defender and assist man this season, averaging 5.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. Junior guard Marc Sonnen has begun to get more minutes in recent games. Making three straight starts, Sonnen has scored 13.3 points per game. He has shot a combined 51.8 percent from the floor during that stretch.

Creighton's Doug McDermott has been a phenomenal scorer all season for the Bluejays but in the latest victory over Bradley, McDermott took it to another level. McDermott scored a career-high 44 points in the win to raise his MVC leading average to 25.2 points per game. The mark is second nationally only to Damian Lillard of Weber State. McDermott put in 18-of-23 shots he took against the Braves and also pulled down eight rebounds, which is in line with his team leading 8.3 boards per game. Although McDermott did his best to carry the team alone, the Bluejays also got double digit scoring efforts from Jahenns Manigat and Gregory Echenique, with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Senior guard Antoine Young, who is second on the team with 11.5 points per game, had a five-game double figure scoring streak end in the win. The 92 points scored by Creighton was the fifth time the Bluejays have scored at least 90 points per game this season. Creighton The Bluejays shoot the best percentage in the nation at 51.3 and rank seventh in scoring at 83.2.