Creighton, which has lost only to Saint Joseph's and Missouri State this season, moved to 4-1 in MVC action on Tuesday night with a narrow 63-60 win over Northern Iowa at home. The Jays moved to an impressive 8-1 in their own building with the triumph and enter play tonight tied with both Missouri State and Wichita State atop the league standings.
As for the Redbirds, they are following the top three teams in the MVC quite closely with three wins in five league outings. Also in action three nights ago, Illinois State was dealt a 65-62 setback by the aforementioned Shockers. The defeat snapped a brief two-game win streak by ISU and was already the second loss of 2012.
The Redbirds lead the all-time series with Creighton by a count of 40-26, although the Jays have taken 18 of the last 28 matchups. But again, working in favor of the home team tonight is the fact that Illinois State has a record of 24-7 overall in Normal.
The Jays are scheduled to host Illinois State on the first of February.
A late 7-0 run by the Bluejays was crucial as the team grabbed a five-point lead over UNI and then held on for the three-point triumph at home on Tuesday. Antoine Young tallied 21 points, Doug McDermott 14 to go along with eight rebounds and four assists, while Grant Gibbs dropped in 10 points and Gregory Echenique cleared 11 rebounds in an effort to offset his 0-of-4 shooting from the floor and four turnovers. McDermott is one of the nation's top scorers through 16 games with his 24.5 ppg, a rare combination player who not only shoots an incredible 56.1 percent behind the three-point line and 62.2 percent from the floor, but is also responsible for a team-high 8.3 rpg. Young checks in with 12.1 ppg and is second on the team in assists with 67, trailing only Gibbs (7.6 ppg) who has handed out 94 assists thus far for a team that is one of the best in college basketball with a hefty 81.9 ppg thanks to 51.1 percent shooting from the field and 45.2 percent out on the perimeter.
It was just a three-point difference after 40 minutes of play, but the Redbirds had to consider themselves lucky to be even that close since they shot less than 40 percent from the field and just 7-of-25 behind the three- point line in the meeting. Nic Moore came up with a career-high 23 points, converting 7-of-10 from the floor, while Tyler Brown tacked on 13 points and Jackie Carmichael came up a point shy of a double-double as he cleared a game- high 13 rebounds in the setback. With Moore's scoring outburst earlier this week the Redbirds now have seven players on the roster who at one time or another have scored at least 20 points in a Division I game which means there's a potential for any one of them to take over the scoring responsibilities from one game to the next. Nevertheless, the best bet for putting up points are Carmichael (12.9 ppg) and Brown (12.5 ppg), the former pulling down more than eight rebounds per game as well.