Creighton’s Blue Jays played suffocating defense all night against the Salukis and held them to just 35 percent shooting from the field to take the game 59-45 during SIU’s 16th consecutive conference road loss Tuesday.
Jays’ senior guard Grant Gibbs affected the game in almost every aspect for Creighton (22-6, 11-5 Missouri Valley Conference) as he tallied 13 points, five assists, five rebounds and two steals. Gibbs was also clutch from the free-throw line, as his seven free-throw buckets were four more than the player with the second highest amount.
Creighton shot 51 percent in the game, but the team’s defense was key to its victory. The Jays’ defense hindered the Salukis into tough contested shots all night. SIU (11-15, 4-11 MVC) shot 22 percent from beyond the 3-point line and made just 18 of their 51 total shots.
Saluki junior guard Desmar Jackson was ineffective scoring the ball and hasn’t scored more than 20 points in nine consecutive conference games. Jackson was held to just 5 points and went 1-9 from the field. The junior struggled with foul trouble and suffered an ankle injury late in the second half as he played just 17 minutes on the night.
After displaying signs of resurgent play, SIU sophomore forward Dantiel Daniels scored two points and failed to collect any rebounds. Daniels grabbed more than five rebounds in each of the two games before Tuesday’s. Fellow Saluki post forward junior Davante Drinkard also tallied just 2 points but managed to notch three rebounds and an assist.
The inside scoring threat and lack of a post presence prevented the Salukis from getting clean looks on long-distance shots. However, Creighton thrived on the inside and outscored the Salukis 34- 18 in the paint.
Senior guard T.J. Lindsay was hot from the 3-point line coming into the game, but could not connect on either of his two 3-point attempts on the night. The Salukis appear to shoot well from the perimeter when Lindsay makes his shots, but the senior didn’t seem focused tonight and went just 1-5 shooting in the contest.
SIU senior guards Jeff Early and Kendal Brown-Surles were the two bright spots on a dull offensive night. Early led the Salukis with 12 points and five rebounds, and his defensive energy led him to a game-high three steals. Brown- Surles read the court well and dished a game-high five assists. The 5-foot-11 guard also scored 6 points and connected on one of the Salukis’ three 3-pointers. The Salukis played great individual defense against Creighton’s forward Doug McDermott as they held him to just 10 points on 4-11 shot attempts in 26 minutes.
SIU also defended Jays’ big man Gregory Echenique effectively as he scored just 6 points against a small SIU frontcourt. Echenique was also limited on the glass and held to three rebounds. Creighton found success through the Blue Jays’ role players. Center Artino Will scored 13 points on 6-6 shooting and grabbed 5 boards in 17 playing minutes. Gibbs and guard Jahenns Manigat accounted for 19 points and eight assists in Creighton’s backcourt.
SIU will face Miami of Ohio in Carbondale Sat., Feb. 23 in the ESPN