While Creighton's offense continues to run through star Doug McDermott, consistent production from reserve Josh Jones could prove to be key.
The No. 15 Bluejays look to open 3-0 for the third consecutive season Sunday as they host offensively challenged Presbyterian in the Las Vegas Invitational.McDermott averaged 22.9 points in 2011-12 to rank third in the country, leading Creighton (2-0) to a Missouri Valley tournament championship and a No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament. While the Bluejays could be in for another exciting season, the reigning conference player of the year may not need to carry as big a burden on offense.After posting 21 points in a season-opening 71-51 win over North Texas, McDermott failed to reach double figures for the first time in 38 games Wednesday, scoring five on 2-of-6 shooting in a 77-60 victory over UAB.With McDermott limited by early foul trouble and unable to find his groove, Creighton trailed by 10 early in the second half before Jones went off. The fifth-year senior scored all 18 of his points in the second half as the Bluejays improved to 9-0 when he scores at least 12."He loves the game, he loves Omaha, he loves Creighton and he'll do anything to help us win games," coach Greg McDermott said of Jones. "It's kind of cool to see it all come together on a night like tonight when we really needed it."It just proves we're more than a one-man show."Center Gregory Echenique also came up big after a quiet opener, recording 13 points, a career best-tying 16 rebounds and four blocks."The bottom line is that Creighton is a really good team," UAB coach Jerod Haase said. "We can take away some things, but at the end of the day there's a reason they're the (15th-ranked) team in the country."Creighton has to like its chances of keeping things going against Presbyterian (0-2). The Bluejays have won 47 of 48 non-conference home games against unranked foes, including 29 in a row by an average of 15.6 points. They've won 26 of 28 at home overall."We're here and this is our home and we're going to protect it," Echenique said.The Blue Hose, meanwhile, have had a rough go of it, falling 77-44 at Clemson on Monday and 52-38 at Georgia Tech two days later. Presbyterian took a one-point lead into the break against the Yellow Jackets but scored just 13 in the second half.Senior Khalid Mutakabbir was the only player to score in double figures, putting up 12 of his 13 points over the first 20 minutes.The Blue Hose's 41.0 points per game rank last in the nation. They're shooting 33.3 percent from the field and could have their hands full against a Creighton defense limiting opponents to 34.8 percent.Presbyterian had lost all eight of its matchups against ranked foes since the start of 2008-09 -- by an average of 31.7 points -- before winning its most recent one with a 56-54 upset of then-No. 20 Cincinnati on Nov. 19, 2011. Mutakabbir scored a career high-tying 25 points.