The past few seasons, Creighton had little trouble defending its home court but struggled mightily to win on the road.
It is now enjoying success both in Omaha and in opponents’ arenas, and consequently has risen to its highest ranking in nearly a decade.
The 15th-ranked Bluejays look to win six consecutive road games for the first time in 37 years Wednesday night when they visit Drake.
With Saturday’s easy 75-49 victory over Indiana State, Creighton (18-2, 8-1 Missouri Valley) won its eighth straight game since losing to Missouri State in the conference opener. The Sycamores did a good job of double-teaming Doug McDermott - the nation’s third-leading scorer - but the Bluejays proved they are more than a one-man team.
Although McDermott, who averages 23.2 points, matched his season low with 12, Creighton had seven other players score at least six. Senior Antoine Young and sophomore Ethan Wragge each had eight for the Bluejays, who moved up four spots in the latest poll to their highest position since they were No. 12 on Feb. 10, 2003.
“It really showed other opponents that if you take away one of our options,” Wragge said, “we have a bunch of guys that can come in and score.”
The Bluejays lead the MVC with 81.5 points per game and rank first in the nation in both field-goal percentage (51.4) and 3-point percentage (45.1). The team is consistently shooting well regardless of the venue, one of the biggest reasons Creighton is finding success on the road.
In the previous two seasons, the Bluejays were 34-5 at home but 6-21 in true road games. They’re 7-1 on opponents’ courts in 2011-12, trying Wednesday to win eight of their first nine road games for the first time in program history.
Creighton has won its first four conference road games for the first time since going 5-0 in 1942-43 and is seeking to win six consecutive road games for the first time since Jan. 2-Feb. 15, 1975.
The Bluejays, however, have lost their last two trips to Drake, which is 9-1 at the Knapp Center this season.
In their first meeting this season, Creighton defeated the Bulldogs 76-59 on Jan. 3. McDermott, who also averages an MVC-best 8.5 rebounds, finished with 24 points and Young scored 18 as the Bluejays shot 60.0 percent from the floor.
While Creighton was able to score with relative ease, Drake (12-8, 5-4) was limited to a season-low 36.8 percent shooting. Sophomore Rayvonte Rice, who averages a team-best 16.9 points, had a season-worst six on 2-of-10 shooting.
Rice had another tough night from the floor in Sunday’s 66-52 loss at Northern Iowa. The sophomore misfired on 8 of 12 shots to finish with nine points as Drake’s season-best four-game winning streak was snapped.
Ben Simons, second on the team with 15.5 points per game, also struggled, finishing with seven points on 3-of-9 shooting.
“Ben and Rayvonte weren’t their normal selves,” coach Mark Phelps said. “Hopefully we can get back home and get back to playing better basketball.”
“The fact that we lost (Sunday) I don’t think will have any bearing on Creighton and Wichita State,” Phelps said. “Those teams are really good, they stand on their own merit and we’re going to have to be at our best.”