No. 18 CREIGHTON (16-2, 6-1 MVC)
MISSOURI STATE (11-8, 4-3 MVC)
Time: 8 p.m.
Location: JQH Arena
Creighton 21 (No. 1 MVC);
Missouri State 79 (No. 4 MVC)
Line: Creighton -1 (Total 146)
Creighton Players to Watch: F Doug McDermott, 6-7 So. (24.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 62.1% FG, 53.2% 3s); G Antoine Young, 6-0 Sr. (12.3 ppg, 4.3 apg, 1.1 spg); G Grant Gibbs, 6-4 Jr. (8 ppg, 5.9 apg, 1.3 spg). In the middle of his sophomore season, McDermott has already passed the 1,000-point mark for his career. He did it with a 25-point performance in a 90-71 win over Southern Illinois on Sunday.
Missouri State Players to Watch: F Kyle Weems, 6-6 Sr. (16.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 40.5% 3s); C Caleb Patterson, 6-11 Sr. (12.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 50.3% FG); G Michael Bizoukas, 6-2 Sr. (5.1 ppg, 6.1 apg, 3.5 rpg). After missing two games with a concussion, Patterson returned Jan. 10 and went 7-for-8 from the field for a career-high 24 points.
Storylines: Creighton is in a first-place tie with Wichita State in the Missouri Valley at 6-1. Its lone loss came at home against Missouri State, 77-65. Since the big win over the Blue Jays, the Bears have lost 3-of-5 and two in a row. Two of those losses came at home against Illinois State and Evansville, not exactly the cream of the Missouri Valley crop. The Blue Jays, on the other hand, have won six straight since their only league-opening loss.
Keys: With two consecutive home losses to Missouri State, it’s safe to say that the Bears are a tough matchup for Creighton. The Missouri State defense has given McDermott – the nation’s second-leading scorer – fits. McDermott scored 19 points in the Dec. 28 meeting with the Bears, but he was just 8-of-18 from the field and scored just one points in the final 10 minutes. On the other hand, Weems has been a terror for the Blue Jays. In last year’s win in Omaha, he hit the game winning shots in the final seconds. This year, he had a season-high 31 points, including 25 in the second half – in the triumph. Weems – the reigning MVC Player of the Year – has scored in double-figures in 18 straight games. Creighton has scored 90 or more points in eight of its 18 games and is averaging 82.7 points per night. Creighton is 7-1 on the road this season. Its lone loss away from home was an 80-71 defeat in Philadelphia against St. Joseph’s on Dec. 10. The Blue Jays lead the nation in field goal percentage at 51.6 percent. Missouri State gives up just 39.2 percent to its opponents. The Bears are 0-3 when scoring 60 points or fewer. They are also 1-6 when committing 12 or more turnovers.
The Bottom Line: With Missouri State struggling and the Blue Jays out for revenge, the prevailing wisdom may be that Creighton will run away with this one. That’s unlikely. The more likely outcome is a one possession game either way.
The Pick: Creighton 81, Missouri State 80.