Creighton-Drake Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 22, 2013
Creighton didn't fare well as it opened a stretch of three straight Missouri Valley road games. A matchup with Drake is no guarantee the next one will go any better. The 17th-ranked Bluejays will try to rebound from their first loss in more than seven weeks Wednesday night with a visit to Des Moines, where the last nine meetings with the Bulldogs have been decided by 10 or fewer points. With a chance to build a two-game conference lead over Wichita State on Saturday, Creighton (17-2, 6-1) had its 11-game winning streak snapped with a 67-64 loss to the Shockers. It was the Bluejays' first defeat in five road games this season. "We didn't exactly play our best defensively and on the backboards (giving up 22 offensive rebounds) ... so we've got to clean some things up the next couple of days," said coach Greg McDermott, whose team visits Southern Illinois on Sunday. The Bluejays likely won't be as tested on the glass against the Bulldogs (8-10, 2-5), whom they outrebounded 40-22 in a 91-61 home win Jan. 8. Drake, though, is one of the better 3-point shooting teams in the conference with 8.8 makes per game - trailing only Creighton's nation-best average of 9.6 in the MVC. That was hard to tell in the Bulldogs' last game, as they missed 17 of 23 3s and shot 21 of 59 - the same as in the Creighton loss - in an 85-55 defeat at Northern Iowa on Sunday. Leading scorer Ben Simon and Chris Hines totaled nine points on 3-of-13 shooting after combining for 85 points on 30 for 51 from the field in victories over Illinois State and Evansville. "We just didn't make shots and guys that had been making shots, didn't," coach Mark Phelps told the school's official website. The Bulldogs will also have their hands full on the other end as Creighton leads the nation in field-goal percentage (51.8) and 3-point percentage (45.2) and is among the best with 18.1 assists per game. All-American Doug McDermott, the nation's second-leading scorer with 24.1 points per game, scored 16 in 26 minutes Jan. 8 to help Creighton build a 35-point second-half lead and roll to its fourth consecutive victory in this series. The Bluejays avoided a fourth loss in five trips to Drake last Jan. 25 when McDermott scored 30 in a 77-69 victory. "The games have always been competitive when we've played at the Knapp Center, and they're coming off a tough loss, so I fully expect they'll be ready to go," coach McDermott said. It's uncertain how long Creighton's Gregory Echenique will be able to go after injuring his left wrist Saturday. The senior center, averaging 10.1 points and a team-best 7.4 rebounds, finished with a season-low two points and four boards earlier this month against Drake. If Creighton can avoid back-to-back defeats for the first time since a three-game skid Feb. 4-11, it'll open 18-2 for the second consecutive season.
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