Boise State (4-1) at (11) Creighton (6-0)
Wednesday, November 28, 8:05 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: CenturyLink Center Omaha (17,390) -- Omaha, Nebraska. Television: Cox 2. Home Record: Boise St. 4-0, Creighton 4-0. Away Record: Boise St. 0-1, Creighton 0-0. Neutral Record: Boise St. 0-0, Creighton 2-0. Conference Record: Boise St. 0-0, Creighton 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Hoping to keep their perfect record in tact, the 11th-ranked Creighton Bluejays entertain the Boise State Broncos on Wednesday as part of the 2012 Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge.
Boise State is off to a solid start of its own, having won four of its first five games, the most recent of which being a 72-56 decision against visiting UC Santa Barbara last Saturday. The Broncos also have wins over Texas Southern, Oakland and Louisiana on their resume', while their lone setback came in a narrow 74-70 verdict at Michigan State. BSU will open MWC play at Wyoming on Jan. 9, 2013.
Creighton is the highest ranked opponent Boise State has faced on the road in more than a decade, and the Bluejays have soared out to a 6-0 start, with each win coming by double digits. The team recently concluded the Las Vegas Invitational by posting an 87-73 victory over Arizona State last Saturday. Creighton kicks off MVC action at home versus Evansville on Dec. 29.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between Boise State and Creighton in men's basketball.
The Broncos use a balanced attack to put up nearly 75 ppg, as seven guys average at least 7.2 ppg. The team boasts just two double-digit scorers in the form of Derrick Marks (16.4 ppg, 4.0 apg) and Anthony Drmic (13.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.2 apg), although Jeff Elorriaga (9.8 ppg) is close to joining the ranks. Boise State is an average shooting team (.443 overall, .343 three-point range), but the team owns favorable margins in both rebounding (+7.2) and turnovers (+1.2), and is holding the opposition to just 30.6 percent success from beyond the arc. Drmic led four Broncos in double figures in the recent win over UCSB, netting 16 points. Elorriaga added 15, Igor Hadziomerovic had 14 and Marks tacked on 10 for BSU, which hit 44.4 percent of its total shots, draining 9-of-18 three-point attempts along the way. A 15-9 edge in points from the foul line helped, as did a 37-22 rebounding advantage and the fact that the visitors turned the ball over 16 times.
Creighton is fortunate to have one of the best players in all of college basketball wearing its uniform, as Doug McDermott is averaging 21.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. A 51.9 percent shooter who also happens to convert his free throws at an 87.8 percent clip, there isn't much McDermott can't do as he has the ability to take over a game at any point. The Bluejays have only one other double-digit scorer in Ethan Wragge, who is netting 12.8 ppg behind a near-60 percent shooting effort despite not starting a single game to this point, and he too is lights out from the charity stripe (.857). Both Austin Chatman (9.7 ppg, 4.5 apg) and Gregory Echenique (9.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg) are close to joining the double-digit scoring ranks, and both serves other roles as well in helping Creighton average a robust 85.2 ppg. The team is shooting 53.4 percent from the floor, which includes a 39.4 percent effort from three-point land. Defensively, foes are scoring just 62.2 ppg in hitting 38.5 percent of their total shots, which includes a mere 28.1 percent of their long-range tries. The 'Jays also own a +7.0 rebounding margin. McDermott scored 29 points and grabbed nine boards in the recent win over Arizona State, and Wragge tacked on 13 points in 19 minutes off the bench.
The Broncos are sure to put their best foot forward in an attempt to pull off the upset here, but the Bluejays are clearly the superior team, provided McDermott is allowed to do what it is he does best.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Creighton 80, Boise State 63
11/28 10:32:41 ET