Bluejays seek turnaround in battle with Bulldogs

Indianapolis, IN ( - The 18th-ranked Creighton Bluejays close out a two-game road swing on Thursday evening, as they play host to the Butler Bulldogs in a Big East matchup at the Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Greg McDermott's Bluejays didn't get their road trip off on the right foot on Sunday with a 70-65 setback against St. John's at Madison Square Garden. The loss ended a for-game win streak for Creighton and dropped the team to 9-2 in conference play, now a full game behind Big East leader Villanova (10-1).

Brandon Miller's first season with the Bulldogs have been a struggle at times. Butler currently sits at 12-12 overall, but the team has erased a strong non- conference mark by going a mere 2-10 in Big East play, good for last place. The Bulldogs have dropped three straight games, including Tuesday's 64-50 loss to Xavier.

This is just the ninth meeting between these two programs. Creighton holds a 5-3 series edge and is seeking the regular-season sweep after recording an 88-60 rout of Butler in Omaha on Jan. 14.

All-American Doug McDermott led all scorers with 25 points, but it wasn't enough as the Red Storm edged out the Bluejays in New York City over the weekend. Grant Gibbs had a strong game for Creighton as well, posting 12 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, while Austin Chatman checked in with 10 points. However, the usually efficient Bluejays shot a mere .411 from the floor, a number weighed down by an ugly 5-of-22 from behind the arc (.227).

The offensive numbers have been far better on the year for Creighton, a team that is averaging 80.5 ppg, while shooting .489 from the floor overall, .418 from 3-point range and .748 from the free-throw line. McDermott is inching closer and closer to the 3,000-point mark for his career, as he ranks second in the nation this year at 25.3 ppg. McDermott, who shoots .499 from the floor and .427 from behind the arc, also finds time to lead the team in rebounding (7.1 rpg). Ethan Wragge (11.6 ppg) is another sniper for Creighton, amassing 82 3-pointers on the season on a sizzling .494 accuracy.

Xavier shot a scorching .529 from the floor and was able to distance itself from the hometown Bulldogs en route to the 14-point win in Indianapolis. Meanwhile, Butler struggled with its range, shooting a mere .340 from the floor, thanks in part to a 7-of-25 effort from 3-point range. Elijah Brown led the way in defeat with 14 points off the bench. Alex Barrow was the only other Bulldog to reach double digits, finishing with 11 points.

Modest offensive numbers have been the norm for Butler this year, as the team averages 70.0 ppg on just .434 shooting. Kellen Dunham leads the team in scoring at 16.8 ppg, but has struggled with his efficiency, converting just .382 from the floor. Khyle Marshall is a close second at 14.9 ppg, but the scoring pool dries up fast after that, with Kameron Woods ranked third on the team with 8.2 ppg.