Creighton-Wichita St. Preview
By MATT BEARDMORE
(AP) -- By getting off to its best start since opening 12-0 eight years ago, Creighton has garnered plenty of national attention through the first two months of the season.
One Missouri Valley Conference coach, however, feels that Wichita State has been overlooked.
The 21st-ranked Bluejays look to rebound from a conference-opening defeat Saturday when the host Shockers go for a ninth consecutive victory.
The preseason favorite to win the MVC, Creighton (10-2, 0-1) had never opened conference play as a ranked team until Wednesday. The Bluejays, though, shot a season-low 38.2 percent and were outscored 45-31 in the second half of a 77-65 loss to Missouri State.
"They came into our house and punched us in the mouth, and we didn't do anything about it," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said.
Not even his son, Doug McDermott, could get the Bluejays on track, scoring just one of his 19 points in the final 10 minutes. The sophomore forward is among the nation's leaders with 24.8 points per game.
"Whenever I put it on the floor and tried driving to the hoop, they collapsed," McDermott said. "I feel I let us down. I got in there and threw up some tough shots I shouldn't have taken."
While a spot in next week's AP Top 25 is now far from guaranteed, the Bluejays have bigger concerns as Wichita State (10-2, 1-0) is playing "with an edge." Since a fourth-place finish at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament last month, the 2011 NIT champs have gone undefeated.
The Shockers, whose last nine-game run was from Nov. 24-Dec. 21, 2009, have won their last three by an average of 46.0 points.
"To beat people like that, you have to have an edge - they didn't let up," Bradley coach Geno Ford said after Wichita State beat his team 90-51 on Wednesday.
Although his team won't play the Bluejays until next Saturday, Ford saw more than enough from the Shockers - who shot 52.4 percent and held Bradley to 14 field goals - to put Wichita State in the same conversation as Creighton.
"Creighton's got a lot of national attention and kinda been one of the darling teams of the country," he said. "Those guys (Wichita State) are really good to, and I don't think they've gotten the same national respect that they deserve and probably warrant."
McDermott will get plenty of attention from Wichita State, but the Bluejays will have a hard time keying on one player as six Shockers are averaging between 9.4 and 12.3 points.
Senior guards Toure' Murry and Joe Ragland lead Wichita State with 148 points.
"They're deep and they're athletic. They've got a lot of bodies," Ford said. "You watch the game tonight, I don't know who their best player is. I don't know. They got a lot of them."
Wichita State swept Creighton last season for the first time since 1987-88. The Shockers won 68-54 at Creighton on Jan. 12, then escaped with a 67-65 victory at Charles Koch Arena on Feb. 23. Ragland found Aaron Ellis for the go-ahead jumper with 1.5 seconds left after McDermott missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 33.1 seconds remaining and the game knotted at 65.
McDermott, who was held to 18 points combined in the two games, was off on a 24-footer as time expired.
The Bluejays lost their last six MVC road games last season, while the Shockers have won 10 straight overall at home.
Creighton is 52-43 in this series.
Updated December 30, 2011