TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Creighton's task is simple as it tries to move forward after Wednesday's humbling, 76-57 loss to Indiana State.
“We have to make sure Indiana State doesn't beat us today and again on Saturday,'' Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “We have to learn from this, and there isn't time to hang our head.''
Creighton's next game comes Saturday night against enigmatic Illinois State at the CenturyLink Center. The Redbirds were picked second in the preseason but opened the Missouri Valley season with six straight losses. They've bounced back to win five of their last six.
“If I'm Illinois State, I'm foaming at the mouth after watching this film,'' McDermott said. “We weren't exactly ourselves, and we have a couple of days to clean that up.''
The Bluejays returned to Omaha after Wedneday's game, and they'll be back on the practice floor Thursday afternoon.
“We'll definitely come ready to practice,'' guard Jahenns Manigat said. “I'm sure the coaches will have defensive clips of mistakes that we made and the breakdowns that we had.
“We don't want this thing to defeat us on Saturday. I think that happened when we lost at Wichita State and had to play Drake. I think we still had Wichita on the back of our minds. We have to flush this one as quick as we can but also learn from it. We know we have to be prepared to play.''
Creighton followed its first Valley loss at Wichita State on Jan. 19 by getting upset four days later at Drake.
Fouls were costly for Creighton
The last thing Creighton wanted to do is let Indiana State shoot a lot of free throws, but the Bluejays committed 25 fouls that resulted in 27 free throws for the Sycamores.
They got to the bonus situation midway through each half.
“When that happens,'' McDermott said, “Jake Odum is a tough guard.''
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The Sycamores' junior point guard was aggressive from the start Wednesday, driving the ball at Creighton's defense. That resulted in a number of close-up shots for Odum, and when the Bluejays collapsed their defense to stop him, he either drew fouls or passed the ball out to teammates for open shots.
Odum finished with five assists to go along with 22 points. He made 7 of 10 shots from the field and converted 8 of his 11 free throws.
“He's terrific, and I think he's as good of a point guard as there is in the country when you consider everything he does for his basketball team,'' McDermott said. “He makes plays at the defensive end of the floor, he makes good decisions and tonight he got into the teeth of our defense.
“He made shots and drew fouls. He forced us to have to go to our bench because of some foul trouble, and our bench really didn't respond with the exception of Will Artino.''
Artino continues shooting streak
Artino continued to be the can't-miss kid, making all five of his field goals in a 13-point performance that allowed the 6-foot-11 sophomore to match his career high.
He has made 16 of his last 17 field-goal attempts over the past 10 games.
Like all of Creighton's big men, Artino found it tough going inside against Indiana State's defense.
“They were really digging off their guys, and we didn't get the ball movement we needed to,'' Artino said. “That allows our big to have seals that lead to easy baskets. Without the ball movement, they were able to sit back against our big guys.''
Indiana State coach Greg Lansing praised the work 6-10 sophomore Jake Kitchell did inside, especially against Creighton center Gregory Echenique. CU's big man had 16 points and nine rebounds in the Bluejays' 79-66 win over the Sycamores on Jan. 5 in Omaha.
Echenique finished Wednesday's game with eight points and seven rebounds. A 67-percent shooter this season, Echenique made 3 of 7 attempts in the loss.
“They absolutely killed us inside in Omaha,'' Lansing said. “We wanted to protect the paint, and 'Kitch' did a tremendous job. At Creighton, we noticed he did the best job on Echenique.
“He just walled him up and made him have to shoot over him. We built our defensive inside-out tonight, and the guys inside really did the job.''
Four-point play set up Sycamore run
Although his team was down by 11 points at halftime, McDermott was encouraged by holding Indiana State to 39 percent shooting from the field.
“We did a fairly good job of getting out on their shooters, but we fouled them a bunch and we turned it over,'' McDermott said. “We talked at halftime about chipping away at this and keeping them off the free-throw line.
“The first thing we do is foul a 3-point shooter for a four-point play.''
RJ Mahurin made Indiana State's first basket of the second half and went to the line after burying the 3-point shot. He completed the four-point play, the fifth of his career, and ignited an 13-3 opening run that all but sealed the victory.
Bits and pieces
The loss was Creighton's fifth in its last seven visits to the Hulman Center. The Bluejays had won the last four games against the Sycamores. ... Doug McDermott's eight points pushed his career total to 1,941 and left him in 17th place on the Valley's all-time scoring chart. ... Nevin Johnson's eight points were one shy of his career high. He and Artino combined for 21 of Creighton's 28 bench points. ... The Bluejays' 41.7 percent field-goal shooting was their lowest in 12 conference games this season and their second-lowest of the season. Creighton shot 41 percent from the field in winning at California in mid-December. ... The Bluejays also posted their second-lowest percentage from 3-point range (.278) against the Sycamores. The nation's leader in field-goal and 3-point percentage, Creighton came into the game shooting 52 percent from the field and 44.9 percent from 3-point range. ... Creighton recorded a season-low 10 assists on its 20 baskets. The Bluejays' previous low had been 12 in a win over Arizona State.
— Steven Pivovar