Indiana State (18-13) vs. Creighton (25-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 9, 2:35 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Scottrade Center (19,150) -- St. Louis, Missouri. Television: MVC Network, CSN-CHI. Home Record: ISU 11-3, Creighton 15-2. Away Record: ISU 4-9, Creighton 7-5. Neutral Record: ISU 3-1, Creighton 3-0. Conference Record: ISU 9-9, Creighton 13-5. Series Record: Creighton leads, 53-25.
GAME NOTES: The Missouri Valley Conference Tournament moves forth with the semifinal round on Saturday afternoon, as the top-seeded Creighton Bluejays take on the fifth-seeded Indiana State Sycamores at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
The winner will advance to play in Sunday's championship game against either Wichita State or Illinois State.
Indiana State came into the tournament ice-cold, having lost back-to-back games and five of its last six to close out the regular season, but it captured a thrilling 51-50 win in the quarterfinals over Evansville to improve to 18-13 overall. The triumph avenged an 84-68 loss to the Purple Aces in the regular-season finale.
Creighton, the MVC regular-season champion, has won five of its last six games, including a 65-53 victory over Drake in Friday's quarterfinal round. The Bluejays improved to 25-7 on the season, and at 41-20 all-time in the MVC Tournament, they boast the most wins in this event by a wide margin.
Indiana State defeated Creighton in the latest encounter between the squads at home on Feb. 6, 76-57, although the Bluejays still lead the all-time series, 53-25.
After leading by as many as 10 points in the second half of its quarterfinal matchup, Indiana State's lead dissipated until the teams were tied at 50-50 with just over three minutes left. Both sides went scoreless until Justin Gant gave the Sycamores a one-point lead with just two seconds remaining on a 1- of-2 trip at the line, and after a miracle full-court inbound pass fell into the hands of Ned Cox for Evansville, Devonte Brown swatted away his layup attempt at the buzzer. Brown led the squad in the defensive struggle with 11 points off the bench, while R.J. Mahurin netted 10 points. On the season, the Sycamores score 66.6 ppg while giving up 65.5 ppg, outshooting their opponents from the field, 43.5 percent to 41.3 percent. Jake Odum is one of the most well-rounded guards in the MVC, tallying 14.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.7 apg and 1.4 spg. Manny Arop scores 12.3 ppg and hauls in a team-high 5.2 rpg, while Mahurin adds 10.5 ppg to the mix.
Creighton and Drake played a tight matchup for most of their matchup on Friday, with the former leading by just three midway through the frame, but it ripped off a 15-2 run to pull away down the stretch. The Bluejays shot 46.8 percent from the field and were led by another outstanding effort from Doug McDermott, as he scored 23 points to become the program's all-time leading scorer, eclipsing Rodney Buford's mark of 2,116 points set in 1999. Will Artino was pivotal off the bench with 14 points in 14 minutes, while Gregory Echenique tallied 11 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks. On the season, Creighton scores an MVC best 76.0 ppg, and its field goal percentages (.510) ranks second in the nation behind only Weber State. McDermott is making a strong case for National Player of the Year, as he nets 23.3 ppg with outstanding percentages from the field (.560), 3-point range (.489) and the foul line (.859), while also ripping down 7.6 ppg. Echenique has been impressive in the paint at both ends of the floor, logging 9.6 ppg (on 66.1 percent from the field), 6.6 rpg and 1.6 bpg.
Indiana State proved it has the ability to knock off Creighton, but it will not have the advantage of playing in front of the home fans in Terre Haute this time around. After a brief slide a few weeks ago, the Bluejays appear back to form, and with McDermott leading the way, they should be able to muster up enough points to advance to the championship round.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Creighton 78, Indiana 71
03/09 10:41:28 ET