Creighton opens up Missouri Valley Conference play at home Saturday (12/29) against Evansville. Junior Doug McDermott is 22-of-35 from three-point range in the past six games and has already been named MVC Player of the Week four times this season. The Purple Aces are 7-5 with losses to Notre Dame and Butler. The Bluejays last played on the 19th, a 71-54 win at Tulsa to improve to 11-1 on the season.
McDermott (23.1 ppg., 6.8 rpg.) is the nation’s only returning consensus First Team All-American, as well as the nation’s leading returning scorer (22.9 ppg. last year). He’s led the Jays in scoring and rebounding each of the past two seasons, and has already picked up MVC Freshman of the Year, MVC Newcomer of the Year, MVC Player of the Year and MVC Tournament MVP honors in his career.
The other three returning starters include senior center Gregory Echenique (10.8 ppg., 7.5 rpg., 1.7 bpg.), senior guard Grant Gibbs (6.8 ppg., 6.3 apg.) and junior guard Jahenns Manigat (.468 3FG% last year). Gibbs led the MVC with 176 assists last year, while Echenique had a league-high 57 blocks en route to earning MVC Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Sophomore Austin Chatman replaced three-year starter Antoine Young, the lone player from last year’s rotation to depart. Chatman is averaging 8.0 points and 4.2 assists per contest.
Colt Ryan leads the Purple Aces, averaging 13.7 points per game. Ryan was a first-team all-MVC pick a year ago after finishing 11th nationally in scoring (20.5 ppg.). He owns a solid 40/17 assist/turnover ratio this winter as well.
Also scoring in double-figures is DJ Balentine (10.9 ppg., team-high 25 three-pointers) and Ned Cox (11.6 ppg.). Six other men average between 5.2 and 5.8 points per game on one of the nation’s most balanced teams.
The Purple Aces are averaging 69.5 points per game and yield just 62.5 per contest.