Omaha, NE – The 16th-ranked Creighton Bluejays put a seven- game win streak on the line on Saturday, as they take on the Indiana State Sycamores in Missouri Valley Conference action in Omaha.
The Bluejays have been impressive thus far, with wins in 13 of their first 14 games. The lone loss on the season came at home to Boise State (83-70) back on Nov. 28, but the team hasn't lost since, including a pair of wins to open league play, topping Evansville (87-70) and most recently, Illinois State (79-72).
The Sycamores are also undefeated in MVC play at 2-0. Indiana State, which is 9-4 on the year, comes into this contest with a three-game win streak in tow, including conference victories over Illinois State (77-75) and Northern Iowa (65-61).
Creighton holds a 52-24 lead in the all-time series with Indiana State, including wins in each of the last three meetings. The Bluejays have also won 13 straight over the Sycamores at home. Indiana State's last road win in this series came in 1999.
The Sycamores have had their most success on the defensive end of the floor this year, holding foes to just 65.8 ppg, while limiting them to an even 40 percent shooting. It's a good thing too, because the offensive production has been less than stellar. Indiana State is certainly no juggernaut, averaging a modest 68.2 ppg and doing so on only .423 shooting. Point guard Jake Odum remains the team's top playmaker, with the ability to both score (14.8 ppg) and get others involved in the offense (4.6 apg). Backcourt depth is found in Manny Arop (12.8 ppg), while limited frontcourt balance comes from forward R.J. Mahurin (9.2 ppg) and center Justin Gant (8.2 ppg).
The Sycamores outscored the Panthers 22-9 at the free-throw line, a key stat in Indiana State's big road win at Northern Iowa. Gant led the team with 18 points and six rebounds. Odum was just 3-of-8 shooting, but finished with 16 points, as he was 9-of-13 from the charity stripe.
The Bluejays have had no such problems offensively, as the team comes in converting 50.9 percent from the field overall, good for seventh overall nationally. Creighton is averaging a solid 79.5 ppg, with a good portion of that coming from All-American Doug McDermott. Creighton's star forward is shooting 55.0 percent from the floor overall, including an even 50 percent from 3-point range (30-of-60) and putting up 22.9 ppg (third nationally). Gregory Echenique has been effective in the middle, delivering on 68.5 percent of his shots, averaging 11.1 points and a team-high 7.7 rebounds per game. Getting the ball in the hands of the scorers is left to guards Austin Chatman and Grant Gibbs who have combined for 145 assists thus far. As a team, Creighton ranks 10th nationally in assists per game (17.5).
In the win over Illinois State on Wednesday, the Bluejays were once again efficient, converting 52.8 percent of their shots, including 13-of-25 from 3- point range (.520). Ethan Wragge came off the bench to lead the way with 18 points. Gibbs poured in 16 points and doled out seven assists, while McDermott and Echenique finished with 15 and 12 points, respectively.