With a season-long 11-game win streak over, the 17th-ranked Creighton Bluejays take aim at starting a new one, as they battle the Drake Bulldogs in a Missouri Valley Conference clash at the Drake Knapp Center on Wednesday.
Greg McDermott's Blujays were cruising along through their MVC schedule with six straight wins part of their longest 11-game win streak. However, any momentum gained was halted abruptly at Wichita State this past weekend, as Creighton dropped a 67-64 decision to the Shockers for just the second loss of the season for the Bluejays.
Mark Phelps' Bulldogs have been a picture of inconsistency this season and their 8-10 overall record is a direct result. Drake did post back-to-back wins for just the second time this season with conference victories over Illinois State and Evansville recently, but the team failed in its bid for a third consecutive victory with a humbling 85-55 rout at the hands of Northern Iowa on Sunday, dropping Drake to just 2-5 in conference play.
Creighton holds a substantial lead in the all-time series (93-58) and has won 19 of the last 27 meetings overall. The 93 victories and 151 all-time meetings are both the most Creighton has against any other opponent.
The Bluejays had a couple of opportunities in the waning moments to tie things up with Wichita State, but couldn't deliver, ending their extended win streak at 11 games and dropping their first league bout of the season in the process. All-American Doug McDermott was once again the driving force for Creighton, pouring in 25 points. Greg Echenique complemented McDermott with a near double-double, posting nine points and 13 rebounds in the loss.
The Bluejays are a lethal offensive squad, averaging 78.9 ppg and ranking among the nation's best in both field-goal percentage (.518) and 3-point accuracy (.452). McDermott is a big reason for that, as the only returning All-American from last year is well on his way to earning that status again, shooting .565 overall, .525 from behind the arc (42-of-80) and ranking second nationally in scoring at 24.1 ppg. Echenique is a distant second in the scoring column (10.1 ppg) but makes the most of his opportunities, converting 66.1 percent from the floor. Ethan Wragge (8.9 ppg) is a valuable asset off the bench with his 3-point acumen (.442 - 46-of-104).
Drake was simply no match for the hot-shooting Panthers last time out, as UNI converted 60 percent of its shots (30-of-50), compared to a 35.6 percent effort from the visiting Bulldogs (21-of-59). Drake was also outscored at the free-throw line, 18-7. Richard Carter led the way offensively for the Bulldogs, posting 16 points off the bench. Jordan Clarke added 10 points to the cause and led the team with eight rebounds.
There is nothing flashy about Drake's offensive capabilities. The Bulldogs are averaging 72.4 ppg, but are giving up 74.1 ppg, as opponents are converting 45.5 percent from the floor overall. Ben Simons leads the team in scoring at 14.2 ppg, thanks in large part to his team-best 45 3-pointers. Seth VanDeest and Chris Hines are flirting with double-figure scoring averages at 9.9 ppg, each.