Niceville, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The No. 23 Creighton Bluejays put their perfect record on the line as they take on the Ole Miss Rebels in the third round of inaugural Emerald Coast Classic at The Arena.
Despite losing superstar forward Doug McDermott and some key contributors from last season's NCAA Tournament team, Creighton has been impressive en route to a 5-0 record during the 2014-15 campaign. The Bluejays coasted to a 75-53 win over Eastern Illinois on Tuesday at CenturyLink Center Omaha, where all five of their games have been held. Creighton has had a different leading scorer in each victory as six of its players are posting at least 8.0 ppg. The Bluejays returned 11 lettermen from last season's 27-8 squad, but Austin Chatman (9.6 ppg, 4.6 apg) is the only starter back from that squad.
Ole Miss bounced back from its season-opening, 66-65 overtime loss to Charleston Southern with three consecutive triumphs to arrive at a 3-1 overall record. The Rebels managed to defeat Northern Arizona, 80-74, on Sunday at home. Ole Miss is coming off a 19-14 campaign in 2013-14 and also lost its go- to-guy on the offensive end, Marshall Henderson, to graduation. The Rebels are ranked sixth in the SEC in points allowed per game (60.5) and second in steals (9.7 spg).
This will be the first meeting in history between the Bluejays and Rebels on the hardwood. Greg McDermott is 1-0 at Creighton versus SEC teams thanks to his Bluejays' one-point win over Alabama in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Ole Miss is 16-6 in regular-season tournaments under coach Andy Kennedy, including capturing titles in the 2007 San Juan Shootout and the 2013 Barclays Classic.
Isaiah Zierden is pacing Creighton in the scoring column with 13.8 ppg, while Will Artino (10.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg) is not far behind. Geoffrey Groselle scored a career-high 15 points for the Bluejays in their rout of EIU on Tuesday. Toby Hegner netted 13 points and James Milliken finished with seven points and 10 rebounds for the Creighton, which kicked off its schedule with five straight wins for the fourth consecutive season. The Bluejays shot 51.9 percent (27- for-52) from the floor, while limiting the Panthers to only 44 percent (22- for-50). Creighton is ranked third in the Big East in scoring offense (78.6 ppg) and fourth in scoring defense with an allowance of 60.8 ppg.
Ole Miss has an excellent leader in senior guard Jarvis Summers, who was recently named to the Cousy Award Watch List, which is given to the nation's top point guard at the season's end. Summers is the SEC's active career leader in points (1,290), assists (385) and wins (69). The senior floor general scored a game-high 22 points for the Rebels in their hard-fought win over NAU on Sunday. Also scoring in double figures for Ole Miss was Stefan Moody and Ladarius White with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Summers is netting 14.3 ppg and 3.8 apg, while Moody is chipping in 11.8 ppg despite a 35.1 percent efficiency rating from the floor.