Omaha, NE – The 25th-ranked Creighton Bluejays are off to a strong start, and they have an outstanding chance to add another victory to their impressive record when the Houston Baptist Huskies visit Omaha this evening.
Houston Baptist's 87-76 victory over Campbell on Wednesday was significant, as it marked head coach Ron Cottrell's 400th career win. The triumph was the second in a row for the Huskies, but they are still just 4-6 overall this season, including 0-4 in true road affairs. They won't begin Great West Conference play until January 19 against NJIT on the road.
The Bluejays were picked to win the Missouri Valley Conference after returning 10 lettermen and three starters from last year's 23-win team, so the fact that this club is off to a 7-1 start certainly isn't surprising. Creighton actually opened the campaign with seven consecutive wins before finally tasting defeat in the most recent outing, an 80-71 setback to Saint Joseph's on the road. Creighton has won 14 consecutive home games. Furthermore, the Bluejays have won 34 straight non-conference, regular-season home games against unranked foes since falling to Drexel on February 17, 2007.
Creighton has won both of its previous series meetings with Houston Baptist, including a 29-point romp over the Huskies two seasons ago.
Houston Baptist freshman Marcel Smith scored 14 points to pace six double- digit scorers in the win over Campbell earlier this week. Marcus Davis and Ronald March added 12 points apiece for the Huskies, who got 11 points from Tyler Russell. Art Bernardi and Anthony Hill rounded out the group with 10 points each, and the team shot 51.7 percent from the field to claim the win. Bernardi is averaging a team-best 14.8 ppg this season on 55.8 percent shooting from the field, and he is pulling down 6.0 rpg as well. Marcus Davis checks n with 13.9 ppg on 48.5 percent three-point efficiency, and Russell adds 12.5 ppg. As for March, he brings 11.0 ppg to the fold for Houston Baptist, which is generating 77.2 ppg. Unfortunately, the squad is permitting 81.7 ppg to foes on 49.6 percent field goal efficiency.
Creighton's Doug McDermott has been sensational this season, as he has topped 20 points in seven consecutive outings and is averaging 24.0 ppg on 62.6 percent shooting from the floor. McDemott is also ripping down 9.1 rpg and is playing like an All-American. The only other double-digit scorer for the club is Antoine Young with his 11.1 ppg, and he places second on the roster with 36 assists. The Bluejays are generating 85.0 ppg on 51.6 percent overall field goal efficiency, and they are shooting 46.2 percent from behind the arc. Defensively, they are limiting opponents to 69.4 ppg. In the nine-point loss to Saint Joseph's last time out, McDermott logged 26 points and 10 rebounds. Young added 15 points in that affair, while Gregory Echenique pitched in 10 points. The Bluejays shot just 34.4 percent from the floor in the first half and played poor defense in the second half. They were also outrebounded by a 40-28 margin in the affair.