Drake-Creighton Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 07, 2013
Creighton may only go as far as Doug McDermott will take it, but he's hardly the only reason for its success. That depth does not bode well for a visiting Drake team still searching for its first Missouri Valley win. McDermott and the 13th-ranked Bluejays look to extend their winning streak to nine on Tuesday night with a fourth consecutive victory in this series. Third in the nation in scoring (23.1 points per game) and a 48.5 percent shooter from 3-point range, McDermott has helped Creighton (14-1, 3-0) jump out to its best start since the 2002-03 team opened 16-1. The All-American finished with a game-high 25 points and nine rebounds in Saturday's 79-66 victory over Indiana State, but he was on the bench with foul trouble as the Bluejays pulled away in the second half for their first 3-0 conference start since 2003-04. "Doug's a fabulous player, but we're more than a one-man show,'' coach Greg McDermott said of his son, who averaged 26.7 points and 8.7 boards - while shooting 68.3 percent - in three wins over Drake last season. The Bulldogs (6-8, 0-3), who allowed Missouri State to shoot 51 percent in Saturday's 77-65 loss, obviously will have their hands full with Doug McDermott, but reserve forward Ethan Wragge and center Gregory Echenique have also been producing at a high level for the Bluejays. Wragge, who shot 0 for 8 from long range and went scoreless against Drake in 2011-12, leads the team with 37 3-pointers - five more than McDermott - and is shooting 44.0 percent from beyond the arc. The junior made half of his six attempts on Saturday after going 6 for 9 in the Bluejays' previous game, Wednesday's 79-72 win at Illinois State. "Other teams are scared, and they don't want to leave him," said Greg McDermott, whose team is second in the nation from 3-point range (43.7 percent). Echenique is scoring 13.7 points per game since league play started and he's second in the conference in total rebounds (117) and blocks (26) after scoring 16 with nine boards and four blocks on Saturday. Given that the Bluejays are outrebounding their conference foes by 9.0 per contest, Drake coach Mark Phelps will likely need strong efforts down low from seniors Jordan Clarke and Ben Simons as well as freshman reserve Joey King, who led the team with 21 points and seven rebounds on Saturday. Led by Simons' 37, the Bulldogs are making 8.7 3-pointers per game - not far behind Creighton's national best-tying average of 9.5. Drake, though, is shooting just 24.7 percent in conference. Accuracy has certainly been an issue for the Bulldogs in recent visits to Omaha. They've shot 37.0 percent overall in three straight losses at Creighton. The Bluejays, a 76-59 winner in Drake's last visit on Jan. 3, 2012, have dropped just two of their last 17 at home in the MVC.
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