Omaha, NE – The Drake Bulldogs face a huge challenge as they visit the CenturyLink Center Omaha to take on the No. 13 Creighton Bluejays in a Missouri Valley Conference tilt.
After finishing up its non-conference slate with a 6-5 record, Drake lost its first three MVC contests to Bradley (67-57), Wichita State (75-63), and Missouri State (77-65) to fall back below the .500 mark. The Bulldogs are one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the nation with a 39.1 percent clip from beyond the arc, which has led to 73.1 points per game. Coach Mark Phelps's squad needs to toughen up on the defensive end, where it is allowing 72.3 ppg.
Greg McDermott's Bluejays are 14-1 after reeling off their eighth straight victory on Saturday by downing Indiana State, 79-66, at home. Creighton has defeated all but one of its opponents by double-digit margins so far, including Saint Joseph's, Nebraska, Evansville, and California. The Bluejays lead the MVC in scoring offense with 79.5 points per game and they are also third in scoring defense with an allowed average of just 62.4 ppg.
Creighton leads the all-time series with Drake by a 92-58 margin, including a 55-19 mark in Omaha. CU���s 92 wins and 150 meetings with Drake are easily the most played against any other opponent.
In its loss to Missouri State, Drake shot 41.8 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from downtown while the Bears were 51.0 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from long-range. Freshman Joey King scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds off the bench for the Bulldogs. Ben Simons managed 17 points to increase he team-leading scoring average to 14.6 ppg and make it 13-of-14 games he has reached double figures. Junior center Seth VanDeest is second on the squad in points per game (11.1), while Jordan Clarke (7.9 ppg) is second in the MVC in rebounding with 8.2 boards per outing.
Creighton has been able to collect wins easily this season due to the stellar play of junior forward Doug McDermott. The 6-foot-8, All-American is producing 23.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest with a deadly .485 3-point field goal percentage. McDermott guided the Bluejays past the Sycamores with 25 points and nine rebounds, while senior center Gregory Echenique netted 16 points to go along with nine boards. Although McDermott is sensational, it is clear Creighton is much more than a one-man-show with Echenique, Grant Gibbs, Austin Chatman, and Ethan Wragge all contributing regularly.