Chicago State (5-7) at Creighton (9-2)

The Sports NetworkDecember 29, 2013 

GAME NOTES: The Creighton Bluejays go in search of their fifth straight win, as they play host to the Cougars of Chicago State on Sunday.

This bout marks the third all-time meeting between these two teams, with the Bluejays winning the first two, the most recent of which being a 95-61 rout in Omaha on Nov. 13, 2011.

Chicago State brings a 5-7 record into this contest, and the team has lost two of its last three outings, including a 102-62 embarrassment at Cincinnati last Monday. The loss dropped the Cougars to 0-7 on the road, and this is the middle leg of a three-game road trek for the club, which plays at Idaho next Saturday in its Western Athletic Conference opener.

Creighton is playing its final non-league game of the regular season today, as it gets set to embark on its inaugural run through the new-look Big East Conference on Tuesday at home against Marquette. The Bluejays opened the season with five straight wins, then suffered consecutive defeats to San Diego State and George Washington. They have since rebounded with four wins in a row, the most recent of which being a 68-54 decision over visiting California last Sunday. Creighton is a perfect 6-0 at home this season, and this is the fourth installment in the team's current five-game homestand.

Chicago State has been a decent offensive team through the first nearly two months, averaging 72.2 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of .431 overall and .333 from 3-point range. The team boasts four double-digit scorers, with Quinton Pippen and Clarke Rosenberg netting 14.7 and 14.3 ppg, respectively. Nate Duhon (11.3 ppg) and Matt Ross (10.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg) have both produced for the Cougars, who allow 78.6 ppg and are typically outrebounded by 9.2 rpg. They do a nice job forcing turnovers (16.2 per game). Poor shooting did CSU in last time out against Cincinnati, the squad making good on only 37.3 percent of its total shots, despite draining 9-of-23 3-point tries (.391). A massive 69-21 rebounding deficit played the biggest role of all, as the Bearcats attempted 85 field goals compared to 59 for the Cougars. Pippen nailed five treys on his way to 20 points, while Rosenberg was hot on his heels with 17.

Creighton features one of the top players in all of college basketball, as Doug McDermott is averaging 24.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, all while shooting 49.2 percent from the floor, which includes a 40.6 percent effort from beyond the arc. He is also nearly automatic from the foul line (67-of-75, .893). Help comes in the form of fellow forward Ethan Wragge (12.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg), who is also a highly-effective long-range shooter (41-of-85, .482), and five others net between 5.9 and 8.5 ppg, helping the Bluejays muster up 82.3 ppg on the strength of their .487 field goal percentage, which includes a .420 showing from downtown. Defensively, the team is giving up 65.5 ppg, with foes struggling more times than not to find their stroke (.402 overall, .317 3- point FG percentage). Factor in favorable margins in both rebounding (+5.2) and turnovers (+0.7), and it's not difficult to see why the 'Jays are off to such a solid start. McDermott logged a double-double in the recent win over Cal, netting 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, while Austin Chatman added 11 points and Grant Gibbs pitched in with 10. Creighton played exceptional defense, limiting the Golden Bears to just 36.4 percent field goal efficiency, which included a dismal 5-of-24 effort from 3-point land.

McDermott and the Bluejays will not be denied on their home floor, as they use this final tune-up to prepare for the start of Big East action.

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