Originally posted on Fox Sports Kansas City  |  Last updated 2/8/13
(AP) -- Creighton and Illinois State were picked as the Missouri Valley Conference's top teams prior to the season, expectations that only one lived up to through the first half of the league slate. While the Redbirds have recovered from their ugly start, though, the 16th-ranked Bluejays have begun to stumble. Creighton tries to bounce back from an eye-opening loss as it returns home Saturday night looking for a seventh straight win over the Redbirds, who hope to stay hot after a stirring come-from-behind victory. The Bluejays (20-4, 9-3) were looking every bit like the top team in the MVC during their 17-1 start, winning their first six conference games by an average of 16.7 points. They've stumbled since, and their latest loss was the most alarming. Doug McDermott was held to eight points - one-third of an average that was second in the nation - and Creighton trailed by as many as 26 in a 76-57 loss at Indiana State on Wednesday. The Bluejays posted their lowest offensive output of the season. "It's the best (defense) we've seen this year," coach Greg McDermott said. "They kept us in front of them and they didn't really expose themselves when they did help. They outrebounded us on the backboard, and I'll have to take a look at the tape, but I thought some of our shots were ill-advised." Creighton has a plus-6.4 rebound margin in its wins but is a minus-6.5 in losses. If there's another concern for a team that leads the nation in field-goal percentage at 51.7 and 3-point percentage at 44.3, it's a lack of activity at the defensive end. The Bluejays have forced 8.7 turnovers a game since conference play began, one of the 10 worst marks in the country. They forced seven at Illinois State last month but won 79-72 behind 18 points from 3-point specialist Ethan Wragge. The junior forward did all his damage from beyond the arc, going 6 of 9. Wragge's shot, though, has been conspicuously absent in Creighton's defeats. He's hit four of 18 and totaled 12 points. Illinois State (14-10, 5-7) has done everything better lately after barely cracking 40 percent from the field in losing its first six conference games. The Redbirds put it all together late at Drake on Wednesday, rallying from 12 down with 7:49 to play to win 94-86. "We made the effort plays that it takes to win games, and we were really good offensively," coach Dan Muller said. "... Our conditioning level, our toughness level, mental and physical, really won the game for us. "(Our players are) buying in again. They're believing." Illinois State got to the line a season-high 36 times against the Bulldogs - Jackie Carmichael, Tyler Brown and Johnny Hill all shot at least 10 free throws - and that's been a major key to its success. The Redbirds are 10-3 when they get to the line at least 20 times. They only shot 10 free throws in the first meeting with Creighton, which is among the nation's most successful teams at keeping opponents off the line. Illinois State's biggest concern still has to be containing McDermott despite holding him to 15 points last month. The junior has shot 62.0 percent while participating in the Bluejays' six consecutive wins in the series, and he totaled 58 points in the final two victories over the Redbirds last season. Carmichael, one of four players in the nation averaging 18.0 points and 9.0 rebounds, has been held to 11.0 and 5.2 during the Redbirds' skid against Creighton.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
One Gotta Go: NFL Legends (and Jose Canseco!) Have No Love For Captain America
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

U.S. Soccer hands Solo six month suspension for Olympic comments

Report: Josh Gordon will be restricted free agent after 2016

Chargers release statement on Joey Bosa situation

Yoenis Cespedes says he will not opt out of Mets contract

Zach Johnson unloads on Olympic golf

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Drew Brees says players do not trust league office, Goodell

Lawsuit over Hall of Fame Game refiled after McAfee comments

Report: Griffin plans to re-sign with Clippers, won't be traded

Report: Wentz unlikely to see any playing time this season

Minnesota Wild names Prince’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ official goal song

Gabby Douglas joining judges for Miss America pageant

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for our favorite football movies

Hard not to be cynical about LeBron's 'Cleveland Hustles'

Familiar faces that won't be seen in the NFL this year

24 quintessential moments of Kobe Bryant's career

Revisiting the 10 biggest mistakes of the NFL offseason

One Gotta Go: NFL legends (and Jose Canseco!) have no love for Captain America

Four WNBA teams to pay attention to post-Olympic break

Madden 17 shows how vital a fresh coat of paint can be

Why people just can't get behind the Washington Nationals

Washington's Josh Norman speaks candidly about multiple NFL talking points

Derrick Rose: Knicks have chance to win every game

Ranking the MLB divisional races

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for our favorite football movies

Hard not to be cynical about LeBron James' 'Cleveland Hustles'

Ranking the uniforms of the NFL from worst to best

Familiar faces that won't be seen in the NFL this year

24 quintessential moments of Kobe Bryant's career

One Gotta Go: NFL legends (and Jose Canseco!) have no love for Captain America

Four WNBA teams to pay attention to post-Olympic break

Madden 17 shows how vital a fresh coat of paint can be

Why people just can't get behind the Washington Nationals

QUIZ: Name every player to win a championship with Kobe Bryant

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker