Sitting atop the Missouri Valley Conference standings once again, the 16th-ranked Creighton Bluejays put their lofty status on the line on Wednesday, taking on the Indiana State Sycamores at the Hulman Center.
Greg McDermott's Bluejays dropped out of the top spot in the conference standings with back-to-back road losses at Wichita State and Drake, but have clawed their way back to the top with three straight wins, including a 75-58 victory over Bradley this past weekend. With the win over the Braves, Creighton recorded its 20th win of the season and moved to 9-2 in league play.
Greg Lansing's third season in Terre Haute has had its share of successes. The Sycamores are 14-8 on the season and sit in third place in the MVC with a healthy 7-4 record. Indiana State was able to knock off then nationally-ranked Wichita State on Jan. 29, but failed to build off that big win with a 74-71 overtime loss at Drake last weekend.
Creighton' lead in the all-time series with Indiana State has ballooned to 53-24 with wins in 24 of the last 30 meetings. The Bluejays hold a narrow 18-16 lead in games played in Terre Haute.
Down by three points at the half, Creighton shot a scorching 69.2 percent from the floor after the break and outrebounded the Braves 18-4 over the final 20 minutes to earn the 17-point win. All-American Doug McDermott once again led the charge with a game-high 25 points. Austin Chatman poured in 16 points in support, while Gregory Echenique chipped in with 10.
Creighton's offensive proficiency is what separates it from most teams. The Bluejays lead the nation in both field-goal percentage (.520) and 3-point accuracy (.449) and are netting 79.0 ppg. McDermott is obviously a big part of the offensive arsenal, shooting .565 from the floor, .510 from behind the arc and ranking second nationally in scoring at 24.0 ppg. Echenique is the only other Bluejay currently in double digits at 10.0 ppg. Ethan Wragge (9.0 ppg) is not a typical reserve, leading the MVC in 3-pointers (59), shooting .450 from behind the arc.
Dawon Cummings led the way with 16 points, but it wasn't enough in an overtime loss at Drake. Jake Odum and RJ Mahurin added 14 points each and Justin Gant finished with 11 points, but ISU went just 2-of-7 in the extra session and fell to the Bulldogs at the Knapp Center.
The Sycamores lack the firepower to win a shootout with the Bluejays and will need to play tight defense to pull off the upset. Indiana State has done a lot of that over the course of the season, holding foes to 65.1 ppg and just over 40 percent shooting. Odum is both the team's top scorer and distributor, averaging 13.9 points and 4.4 apg. Manny Arop is a close second in the scoring column at 12.9 ppg, followed by Mahurin and his 9.2 ppg.