Omaha, NE – The 13th-ranked Creighton Bluejays continue one of their most memorable seasons ever, as they play host to the Illinois State Redbirds tonight in Omaha in Missouri Valley Conference action.
Illinois State is 14-8 on the year, and the Redbirds sit a game over .500 in conference play at 6-5. They have won their last two tilts, the most recent of which being a 60-40 shellacking of Southern Illinois at home on Saturday. ISU is just 2-5 in true road games this season, and the team has dropped its last three outside of Normal.
Creighton has won 20 of its first 22 games, and is a 10-1 in MVC play. The Bluejays have won 10 straight, and they are 11-1 at home this year. A 73-59 triumph over Bradley was the team's most recent, and following this bout, it will hit the road for a pair before playing three of its final five regular- season games in Omaha.
Illinois State owns a 40-27 advantage in the all-time series, but Creighton has won the last three meetings, including an 87-78 decision in Normal on January 13 of this year.
Illinois State is averaging 68.8 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of 44.4 percent overall and 36.5 percent from three-point range. The team has two players netting double figures on a consistent basis, as Jackie Carmichael (13.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg) and Tyler Brown (12.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg) have done their best to keep the Redbirds competitive. Defensively, the team yields 62.5 ppg as foes are hitting just 40.8 percent of their total shots, which includes a 33.4 percent showing from beyond the arc. The Redbirds are +2.8 in rebounding margin, but they are -0.7 in turnover differential. Both Carmichael and John Wilkins logged double-doubles in the recent rout of Southern Illinois, with the former tallying 19 points and 11 rebounds, and the latter 10 points and 11 boards. As a team, ISU shot 44.4 percent from the floor, while limiting the Salukis to 30.0 percent. A 15-6 edge in points from the foul line also played an important role, as did a 40-29 rebounding advantage.
Creighton is one of the highest scoring teams in the country, averaging 80.9 ppg behind highly-efficient shooting percentages of .514 overall and .449 from three-point range. The Bluejays are led by MVC Player of the Year shoe-in, Doug McDermott (23.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg), and the team's only other double-digit scorer at the moment is Antoine Young (11.2 ppg, 4.4 apg). When it comes to playing with their backs to the basket, the 'Jays are giving up 67.8 ppg with foes shooting 42.4 percent from the field. Creighton routinely wins the battle on the board by 5.5 rpg, but is guilty of 13 turnovers per outing, compared to just 11.5 for the opposition. McDermott was on his season average in the recent win over Bradley, hitting 10-of-14 field goal attempts for 24 points, while Gregory Echenique and Josh Jones chipped in with 14 points apiece, the former also grabbing 10 boards as well. The Bluejays shot 54.5 percent from the field, while the Braves were just 39.0 percent accurate. A 17-7 edge in points from the charity stripe helped, but there was a negative in the game as Creighton committed 19 turnovers.