Creighton brushes off undermanned SIUBy Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Sun, Jan 27, 2013 11:20 PM EST
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson referred to playing 17th-ranked Creighton as "a tall order." Literally and figuratively, it was that and more for the Salukis. Getting the breather they needed after consecutive Missouri Valley Conference road losses against Wichita State and Drake, the Bluejays rolled to an 81-51 rout at SIU Arena on Sunday night. National Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Creighton (18-3, 7-2). The Bluejays generally did what they pleased against an opponent that started no one over 6-foot-5. "Aside from the (17) turnovers, I thought we played a good all-around game," Bluejays coach Greg McDermott said. "I thought we did a good job throwing it over the top of their defense in the first half and letting our big guys go and get it. And we shot it well, too." Creighton did nothing to hurt its status as the nation's top-shooting team from the field and the 3-point arc, making 29 of 46 attempts from the floor (63 percent) and a sizzling 12 of 20 from long distance (60 percent). Its five starters -- Doug McDermott, Gregory Echenique, Austin Chatman, Grant Gibbs and Jahenns Manigat -- were a combined 23-for-31 (74.2 percent). The Bluejays certainly didn't have to worry much about hands in their face. SIU (8-12, 1-8) started the game with 6-foot-2 guard Josh Swan checking McDermott. The Salukis simply didn't have many options, even though they tried everything from double-teams to pressure defenses in an attempt to slow the guests. The result was SIU's ninth loss in the past 10 games. "They're a tough team to guard," Swan said. "You saw why they're one of the best teams in the country." Gibbs added 13 points for Creighton, while Echenique, Manigat and reserve forward Ethan Wragge each scored 12 points. The Bluejays also boasted a 39-19 rebounding advantage, including an absurd 18-4 edge in the first half, when the Salukis didn't grab a missed shot until 11 minutes expired. Wyoming transfer Desmar Jackson paced SIU with 16 points. Jeff Early, the team's second-leading scorer at 12.7 points per game and the leading rebounder at 7.5, was suspended for the game after being tossed from Wednesday night's 58-45 loss at Northern Iowa for a flagrant-2 foul when he kneed Jake Koch in the groin. Early's presence probably wouldn't have mattered much from a win-loss standpoint, but it might have made Sunday's game a bit more competitive. "He let his team down with his actions," Hinson said of Early. "That's the difference it made to me." After turning the ball over four times in its first six possessions to give the crowd of 5,764 hope, Creighton began exploiting its vast height and size advantage against Southern Illinois, which played a five-guard lineup at various stages. The Bluejays went on a 13-2 run to open up a 24-12 advantage with 9:46 left in the first half. Aside from a 3-pointer by Manigat, every other score was on a layup or from the foul line. Creighton then scored on eight of nine possessions to establish a 43-25 halftime lead. Jackson scored the Salukis' first 10 points, but he cooled off and made just one of six shots for the half's remainder. "We made a couple of mistakes early against him, like going under ball screens," Doug McDermott said. "But after that, I thought we did a good job guarding him and making him take tougher shots." To start the second half, the Bluejays rattled off an 11-2 spurt and took a 54-27 lead into the first TV timeout, rendering the game's final 14:58 into a race to the final buzzer. It was the 10th consecutive win for Creighton over SIU, which is in the first year of a major rebuild under Hinson. The former Missouri State coach inherited a heavily flawed roster after multiple players transferred following a 23-loss season that cost Chris Lowery his job. "I hope people here realize what they have here in Barry Hinson," Greg McDermott said. "It's great to have him back in the Valley. He's going to build this program the right way, with integrity." NOTES: Creighton is the first ranked team to visit SIU Arena since No. 14 Drake lost on Feb. 13, 2008. ... Southern Illinois has lost its past nine matchups against Top 25 opponents ... Echenique is the only active Division I player with more than 1,100 points, 850 rebounds and 230 blocked shots ... Part of the Salukis' problem in conference games has been first-shot defense. Entered Sunday night's game, Valley opponents had made 49.2 percent of their field-goal attempts against SIU. ... As part of the Coaches vs. Cancer weekend, both coaches wore sneakers. Greg McDermott opted for pink high-tops with his suit and tie.
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