Houston Baptist-Creighton Preview

JEFF MEZYDLO
The Associated Press

For the first time this season, Creighton must try to bounce back from a defeat. Considering the caliber of its next opponent, that might not be too much of a problem.

The No. 25 Bluejays expect to get back on track when they try for a 35th straight regular-season home victory over an unranked non-conference opponent Saturday against Houston Baptist.

With 10 lettermen back from last season's 23-16 team that reached the championship series of the College Basketball Invitational, Creighton won its first seven games and earned a spot in the Top 25 for the first time since the first two weeks of the 2006-07 season.

However, the Bluejays quickly dropped from their initial No. 19 ranking after falling 80-71 at St. Joseph's last Saturday - five days after entering the poll.

"It's good being ranked, but we know we're going to come into some of those environments with an X on our back," star forward Doug McDermott said. "We can't let the ranking go to our head. We've still got to go to practice and come ready to play every day."

Though Houston Baptist (4-6) does not boast the same caliber of talent that St. Joseph's did, Creighton has had plenty of time to make some improvements while preparing for a beatable opponent.

Averaging 87.0 points through its first seven games, Creighton was held to its second-lowest total of the season despite going 11 for 21 from 3-point range. The Bluejays were outrebounded 40-28 and had seven of their shots blocked.

McDermott, however, remained on his game with 26 points and 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-7 sophomore, who ranks second in the nation averaging 24.0 points, is scoring 26.5 while pulling down 11.3 rebounds over the last four contests.

He could be in for another big effort while the Bluejays try to improve to 55-0 at the CenturyLink Center against teams with a .500 record or worse. Creighton's 34-game non-conference regular-season home winning streak against unranked opponents dates to a 64-58 loss to Drexel on Feb. 17, 2007.

It's averaged 97.5 points and shot 52.6 percent while winning both meetings against independent Houston Baptist, which is facing its first Top 25 team since losing 77-55 at then-No. 15 Michigan on Nov. 20, 2009. The Bluejays won 85-56 in the most recent meeting Dec. 22, 2009.

The Huskies enter this contest looking for a third consecutive victory after totaling 199 points in wins over Dallas Christian and Campbell. Marcel Smith's 14 points led six players in double figures during Wednesday's 87-76 win over Campbell that gave coach Ron Cottrell his 400th career victory.

"I think we're playing pretty confident right now, getting two wins in a row," Cottrell told Houston Baptist's official website.

The Huskies have lost their last five games against Top 25 opponents by an average of 36.4 points.