Wisconsin-Creighton Preview


Creighton hopes this week's trip to Las Vegas ends the same way as its last one.

The 14th-ranked Bluejays, who won a tournament in Nevada four years ago, open play in the Las Vegas Invitational against Wisconsin on Friday night.

Creighton (4-0) has won all of its games at home without much drama. It's averaging 85.0 points and its closest margin of victory has been 17.

"We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish with this four-game homestand,'' coach Greg McDermott said after Tuesday's 105-57 victory over Longwood. "And now it's going to get a little tougher this weekend.''

After facing Wisconsin (3-1), the Bluejays, who won the Las Vegas Classic when they last played there in 2008, will get either Arkansas or Arizona State on Saturday.

Creighton is one of the nation's top shooting teams at 57.0 percent - including 40.5 percent from beyond the arc. Four players scored in double figures in the win over Longwood, with Doug McDermott and Gregory Echenique scoring 17 apiece.

McDermott, a reigning All-American and the nation's returning leading scorer, is scoring less this season (16.8 per game compared to 22.9), but he's also getting more help.

Echenique, one of four returning starters from last season's 29-win team, is averaging 11.3 points on 85.0 percent shooting and Ethan Wragge is averaging 11.8 while making 63.6 percent of his shots.

The Badgers should represent a much tougher test as Creighton's first four opponents were a combined 6-12. The Bluejays did go 3-0 against Big Ten teams last year, with McDermott averaging 25.3 points on 65.9 percent shooting and 8.7 rebounds against Iowa, Nebraska and Northwestern.

"It's a huge challenge," the junior said. "This is what we've been looking forward to. It's one of the games we circled on our calendar."

Wisconsin dropped out of the poll from its No. 22 ranking after a 74-56 loss at then-No. 10 Florida on Nov. 14. The Badgers had little luck slowing down the Gators, who shot 61.9 percent, but are allowing an average of 43.3 points on 32.1 percent shooting in their wins.

After falling to Florida, Wisconsin has since outscored Cornell and Presbyterian 161-83.

In Tuesday's 88-43 victory over Presbyterian, the Badgers connected on 16 3-pointers, one shy of the school record. Junior guard Ben Brust accounted for six of them while scoring a team-high 20 points.

"It's good to have teammates who are going to make the extra pass," Brust said. " ... If we see zone again we'll be doing the same thing - moving the ball and getting the better shot."

The 6-foot-1 Brust also pulled down 12 rebounds for his third double-double, and is the surprising early leading rebounder in the Big Ten at 9.3 per game. His 37 rebounds this season are equal to his total over Wisconsin's final 21 games last year.

"What the (heck) is going on?" coach Bo Ryan said. "He's got a nose for the ball, I said it before. The sample size is bigger and how can a guy do that at his size as many times?

"It seems like a lot for the little guy, but it's not. He's working hard, he's got the opportunities and he's taking advantage of them."

Wisconsin won the schools' only previous meeting 75-39 in 1949.