Northern Iowa (9-8) at (12) Creighton (16-1)
Tuesday, January 15, 8 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: CenturyLink Center Omaha (17,390) -- Omaha, Nebraska. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: UNI 7-2, Creighton 10-1. Away Record: UNI 2-2, Creighton 4-0. Neutral Record: UNI 0-4, Creighton 2-0. Conference Record: UNI 2-3, Creighton 5-0. Series Record: Creighton leads, 29-16.
GAME NOTES: The 12th-ranked Creighton Bluejays put their undefeated Missouri Valley Conference record on the line as the Northern Iowa Panthers visit the CenturyLink Center Omaha looking for an upset on Tuesday.
Northern Iowa will be looking for its first victory over a ranked opponent since Dec. 30, 2006 when it upset Wichita State by your points on the road. Coach Ben Jacobson's team is coming off its largest margin of victory in a MVC contest, as the Panthers downed Bradley, 84-53, to improve to 9-8 overall and 2-3 in conference play. Marc Sonnen led the way with seven makes from beyond the arc versus the Braves.
A group effort will be needed to take down Greg McDermott's Bluejays. They won their 10th in a row and improved to 16-1 overall with a 74-52 rout of Missouri State on Friday. The easy decision over the Bears also lifted Creighton to a perfect 5-0 mark in MVC action. Doug McDermott, who is the reigning conference Player of the Year, led the way once again with a season-high 39 points, thanks to his 10-of-11 performance from the field after halftime. Jahenns Manigat went 3-of-3 from 3-point range, while chipping in 11 points for the Bluejays, who shot 57.4 percent from the floor as a team.
This will be the 46th meeting between these schools in history. Creighton owns a 29-16 all-time series lead, but it has split its last four bouts with the Panthers in Omaha.
UNI opened up its matchup versus Bradley on a 22-2 run and never looked back, eventually taking a 41-14 advantage into the half as it held the Braves to just 5-of-22 shooting from the field. UNI was a sensational 15-of-26 from beyond the arc and also controlled the boards, 37-19. Sonnen led the team with 21 points, Jake Koch recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Seth Tuttle was two rebounds shy of a double-double scoring 13 points. Deon Mitchell had seven assists and 15 points while Anthony James and Matt Bohannon scored 11 points each. James (11.6), Tuttle (11.4), and Mitchell (10.4) are all scoring in double-figures while Sonnen and Koch are both very close to joining them.
McDermott's steady all-around production makes the Bluejays a very tough out. The 6-foot-8 junior is generating 23.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, while knocking down 50.7 percent of his attempts from long distance. Gregory Echenique's presence in the paint is factoring into Creighton's success, as he tallies 10.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per outing. Grant Gibbs showed he is a great facilitator when he led the MVC in assists (196) last season, but he may have advanced his passing as he is dealing out 5.8 helpers per outing as a senior.
The Panthers are not quite as dangerous as they were last season. Creighton has a great chance of finishing its regular season with just one loss as it is clearly the best team in the MVC. A spirited Omaha crowd should help the Bluejays add another triumph to their growing collection.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Creighton 75, Northern Iowa 63
01/15 10:32:34 ET