Carbondale, IL (Sports Network) - The No. 17 Creighton Bluejays aim to end their current slide as they take on the Southern Illinois Salukis in a Missouri Valley Conference matchup at SIU Arena.
Creighton owns a 51-36 all-time series lead against Southern Illinois, but the Salukis own a 22-18 edge in Carbondale. The Bluejays have won the last nine meetings and 10 of 11 since an eight-game losing streak to Southern Illinois was snapped in 2007.
Greg McDermott's Bluejays are in a slump. After starting the season out with a 17-1 overall record and perfect 6-0 mark in MVC action, Creighton dropped back-to-back decisions to Wichita State (67-64) and Drake (74-69). The team is one of the best offensive units in the nation, shooting 51.5 percent from the floor (first nationally), 44.1 percent from downtown (first nationally), 74.8 percent at the charity stripe, and outrebounding foes by 4.2 boards a game. CU scores 78.4 points per game, but it has posted only 66.5 per tilt over its last two.
The Bluejays are paced by sharpshooting forward Doug McDermott. The First Team All-American is leading the team and places second nationally in scoring at 23.8 ppg, which he is accompanying with 7.1 rpg. McDermott has been named MVC Player of the Week five times this year and is 36-for-66 from beyond the arc in the past 14 games. The second scoring option on the team is senior center Gregory Echenique (10.0 ppg., 7.3 rpg., 1.8 bpg.). Echenique has led the MVC in blocked shots each of the past two years, but he will looking to bounce back after finishing with eight points and six boards versus Drake due to foul trouble.
Barry Hinson's Salukis are coming off a 58-45 loss to Northern Iowa, which served as their third in a row. The slide pins SIU with an 8-11 overall record including its league worst 1-7 MVC standing. The Salukis were held below 50 points for the first time this season by the Panthers after going 2-of-9 from distance and making only 3-of-8 at the free throw line in the setback. Dantiel Daniels was the only Saluki to reach double figures with 11 points.
SIU is paced by 6-foot-5 junior Desmar Jackson, who leads the team in scoring (16.3 ppg), steals (38) and 3-pointers (25). He is second in rebounding (6.1 rpg). Jeff Early is tallying 12.7 points and 7.5 boards per tilt, while Daniels chimes in with 10.0 ppg. The Salukis are not impressing on either end of the floor this campaign, as they are ninth in the OVC in scoring (65.9) and just one slot higher in scoring defense (65.7).