Evansville upsets #17 Creighton 65-57

Evansville defeated #17 Creighton 65-57 on Tuesday night behind 15 points from Kenny Harris and a cold shooting night for one of the nation’s top three point shooting team.  The Bluejays cut a 10 points Aces lead to 2 at half and quickly opened a 7 point lead in the second half, but the Aces made 18 of 22 FTs and used timely baskets from Harris in the final minutes to secure the victory.  The Bluejays made only 4 of 22 three point attempts.

Doug McDermott scored 21 points for Creighton in the loss.

Creighton falls to 21-4 overall and 11-3 in MVC play. The Aces improve to 12-12 and 7-7 in the Valley.

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#17 Creighton at Evansville preview

Only one game on tap for tonight in the Valley as the Bluejays face the Purple Aces.  It doesn’t look like there is any television scheduled for the game so I’m not sure why this one isn’t being played on Wednesday with the rest of the Valley games.  Nevertheless, there are plenty of intriguing angles on this one:

 

Creighton (-6) at Evansville
The Jays are coming off a heartbreaker of a loss in Cedar Falls at the buzzer thanks to Anthony James. The Aces are all too familiar with losing close games as they’ve seen a miracle buzzer beater three pointer fall for Illinois State, a missed Aces’ free throw opportunity with one second left against Wichita State, a double OT loss to Indiana State, and Saturday’s one point loss against Southern Illinois when the Aces were holding the ball for the last shot in a tie game and instead turned the ball over leading to a layup (foul) and made FT that ended the game.

The Jays are in a first place tie with Wichita State, but with the Shockers looming on Saturday, is it possible that CU could look past the Aces tonight? On the other hand, Evansville desperately needs wins to avoid playing on Thursday night in St Louis – can they overcome the obvious matchup deficits in the interior and can Colt Ryan have a big game to keep it close?

I think Evansville keeps it close, but unless Ryan and Denver Holmes can get hot from the perimeter, Creighton should win this game and set up a much anticipated contest in Omaha this Saturday between the Shockers and Jays.

Update: It appears that the free video link has been removed and is no longer accessible.

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Current MVC Standings & Upcoming Schedule

After the Top 2 spots, it’s anybody’s guess how this will all work out:

Creighton 11-2
Wichita St. 11-2
Illinois St. 7-6
Missouri St. 7-6
Evansville 6-7
Drake 6-7
UNI 6-7
SIU 5-8
Indiana St. 5-8
Bradley 1-12

 

Games this week:

Tuesday, Feb 7-
Creighton at Evansville

Wednesday, Feb 8-
Indiana State at Bradley
Drake at Illinois State
Missouri State at Southern Illinois
Northern Iowa at Wichita State

Saturday, Feb 11-
Wichita State at Creighton
Illinois State at Northern Iowa
Southern Illinois at Indiana State

Sunday, Feb 12-
Bradley at Missouri State
Evansville at Drake

 

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Updated RPI – Sunday, February 5

Yesterday’s win by Northern Iowa over Creighton thrust UNI back into the Top 50 of the RPI and, theoretically, back into at large discussion for an NCAA berth should they be able to continue winning down the stretch.

The current RPI’s for Missouri Valley Conference teams:

Creighton – 16
Wichita State – 26
Northern Iowa – 49
Missouri State – 81
Illinois State – 114
Indiana State – 116
Drake – 121
Evansville – 162
Southern Illinois – 227
Bradley – 229

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Northern Iowa defeats #13 Creighton 65-62 on 3-point buzzer-beater


Following a game tying three pointer by Creighton’s Antoine Young, UNI’s Anthony James took the inbounds pass and navigated downcourt before hitting a step back three pointer as time expired to lift the Panthers to an upset victory over the 13th ranked Bluejays. After missing Wednesday’s game against Southern Illinois due to nagging injuries, James came off the bench for UNI and led the team with 16 points. Freshmen Seth Tuttle and Deon Mitchell proved key playmakers for Ben Jocobson’s team with 13 and 12 points respectively.

Young led the Bluejays with 23 points and Doug McDermott had 18 points and 13 rebounds for Creighton.

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Preview of Valley games – Saturday, February 4

A full slate of Missouri Valley Conferences is scheduled today, highlighted by The War on 74 and the return of the McDermotts to Cedar Falls. With a logjam in the middle of the league and only sic games to play, every game has significant importance for seeding at Arch Madness.

Evansville (-2) and Southern Illinois
The Aces thumped the Salukis by 18 December and it looks like SIU might have hit the wall following several ugly losses in five of their last six. I’ll take Evansville here and give the points.

Creighton (-2) at Northern Iowa
UNI had a chance to win in Omaha on January 10, but a second half Jays rally was just enough for a 3 point Creighton victory. The game is a sell out in Cedar Falls for the return of the McDermotts and the energy and animosity will be high. I think CU plays a focused game and wins on the road again, this time by 6.

Bradley (+12) at Illinois State
The War on 74 was dampened a bit on Wednesday when Bradley was beaten by 30 at Evansville and Illinois State lost by 28 at Creighton. The Redbirds are a heavy favorite at home and with the Braves proclivity to get blown out, I’ll give the points and take ISU here.

Missouri State (+2.5) at Drake
After a quick start in Valley play, Missouri State has lost five of seven, but those losses have been by 1, 5 in OT, 1, 7 in OT, and 7 then at Wichita. The loss of Caleb Patterson could be a factor as Drake lacks a true inside presence, but I’m playing a hunch here and taking the Bears in an upset to win straight up.

Indiana State (+15) at Wichita State
The Sycamores have won three straight games after a terrible MVC start. The number is this one is huge at 15 and I think Indiana State plays a closer game than Vegas thinks. I’ll take the points and take the Sycs.

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MVC standings after 12 games

With two-thirds of the Missouri Valley Conference basketball season in the books, the standings are as follows:

Creighton………..11-1
Wichita St……….10-2
Illinois St…………6-6
Drake…………….6-6
Missouri St……….6-6
Evansville…………6-6
UNI……………….5-7
Indiana St………..5-7
SIU……………….4-8
Bradley……………1-11

It would appear that Creighton and Wichita State will own the top two seeds in St. Louis for Arch Madness and that Bradley is all but assured of a last place MVC finish and a Thursday night date. Everything else is up for grabs which should make for a very exciting month of February in the Renaissance conference.

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Indiana State’s Path To Revival

Reverting to its familiar role as an underdog, the real Indiana State has finally come alive.

Too bad it took more than a month to materialize.

After losing seven of its first nine conference games, the reigning Missouri Valley tournament champions have won two straight contests by getting back to the basics: defense and three-point shooting. The Sycamores held Northern Iowa and Evansville to a combined 26 percent from beyond the arc during the past week, helping them inch up the MVC standings and positioning them to potentially avoid the Thursday play-in game at Arch Madness. Now in eighth place at 4-7, Greg Lansing’s team inexplicably sits just two games out of third place.

Not bad, especially considering the adversity this team has faced. Jordan Printy has lost his three-point touch. Point guard Jake Odum’s plantar fasciitis has affected almost every aspect of his game. And Lansing’s group has not defended anywhere near the level it did last year. For a team with expectations of competing for a league title, Indiana State suffered through a worst-case scenario during the first half of its league schedule.

But this team is not dead yet, and the last two games are proof of that. Now, the Sycamores must find a way to relish its underdog status to close strong in the final month. Indiana State’s turnaround depends on a few major factors:

  1. Jake Odum needs to be the man in order for this offense to execute. The sophomore point guard has not played poorly this season, but the injury has slowed him significantly. His assist totals may be up, but he’s turning the ball over more this season and has not been nearly as effective from the field. Odum has largely dictated the Sycamores’ success this season. Take his team’s blowout loss to Creighton last month, for example. Odum sat with early foul trouble and played just 18 minutes, and the Sycamores predictably lost by 26 points. Again, it’s not as though Odum has seen some sort of major regression as a sophomore. Still, his turnover numbers are alarming, and it’s also a larger sign of ISU’s overall inability to execute offensively. Odum is this team’s engine. If we see the best of him at the point guard spot, the rest of the team will follow his lead. He has the ability to let Dwayne Lathan create off the dribble, and his passing and penetration can get open looks for Jordan Printy and R.J. Mahurin on the perimeter. He’s also the guy that needs to get Carl Richard and Myles Walker the ball on the block. Of course, Odum’s teammates need to knock down shots. Printy has surprisingly experienced a rough season from three-point land, but he showed signs of revitalization by knocking down three of four from beyond the arc in that double-overtime win over Evansville.
  2.  Indiana State must defend like it did last season. During the Sycamores’ surge at Arch Madness, the talk of the Scottrade Center press row was how well Lansing’s team defended. In fact, it was a theme all year for ISU. Even without a ton of size and shot-blockers in the post, ISU acted as one dominant unit in the halfcourt and simply out-worked people. Defensively, Lansing hasn’t seen that sort of effort during Valley play. After stifling the likes of Texas Tech, Fairfield and Vanderbilt, something changed midway through the season. Four MVC teams have shot better than 50 percent from the field against ISU this year already. That’s unheard of—last year, no opponent topped that mark in league play. This team has the ability to defend at a higher level, but it must consistently bring that effort each night now.
  3. Regain that us-against-the-world mentality. It’s now or never for Indiana State. Forget the fact that it can’t win a Valley title anymore (though ISU is technically not mathematically eliminated yet). This team still has a lot to play for. Why can’t the Sycamores have their sights set on an NIT berth? If they can finish above .500 in the Valley and perhaps knock off Butler in the Bracket Busters matchup, they may join that conversation. That seems like a pipe dream at this point, but the lack of pressure may be a good thing. The Sycamores can feed off the critics and doubters again—just as they did last season.

Indiana State will look for its third consecutive win tonight when it hosts Drake, a team it lost to by 15 points in Des Moines back in December. This winning streak won’t get serious unless the Sycamores can knock off Wichita State this weekend, but modest improvement is all Lansing can ask for right now.

 You can follow Danny Spewak on twitter: @dspewak

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Preview of MVC games, Wednesday February 1

Less than 24 short hours from now we will be celebrating another Groundhog’s Day.  Let see if the games scheduled for tonight in the Missouri Valley Conference look eerily similar to anything we’ve seen before:

 

Drake (+5) at Indiana State
Both teams are coming off of big overtime wins. The odds here say that the Sycamores get a win at home and cover.

Wichita State (-5.5) at Missouri State
Sounds like MSU big man Caleb Pattrson won’t be playing, so how much can Kyle Weems carry the Bears against the Shockers? I think it will be close, but I’ll take the Shockers by 2.

Evansville (-3) at Bradley
The Braves only have one win in Valley play… until now. Taylor Brown has a big game and Coach Ford gets his second conference win.

Illinois State (+11.5) at Creighton
This was a 2 point game with a minute to play in Normal before a Johnny hill foul and two subsequent technical fouls. The Redbirds have the inside presence to defend Creighton, so I’ll take Illinois State and the points.

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It’s time for the Valley to stop participating in Bracket Buster

The Missouri Valley Conference has the highest rated RPI team participating the ESPN Bracket Buster event and the second highest rated RPI team scheduled to play on the road.  What an opportunity to showcase the Missouri Valley Conference, right?  Wrong!

Instead of ESPN selecting St. Mary’s to play at Creighton, the Bluejays will face a Long Beach State team that has a nice RPI, but only a single Top 50 win and that against an undermanned Xavier team missing players due to suspension.  Did I mention the Big West Conference is rated 25th in the RPI?

Wichita State should be equally disappointed with their game against Davidson.   Yes, they of the 68th best RPI.  What a farce this is.

The Bracket Buster event has failed the Missouri Valley Conference.  This should be a wake up call to the league office that we should take the route of the Atlantic 10 and simply excuse ourselves from this event.  We don’t need the Bracket Buster – the event needs us.  If our teams are not going to be placed in favorable games, there is no value in participating.

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