ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Gregory Echenique had 20 points and nine rebounds to pace a hot-shooting Creighton men's basketball team to a 99-71 win over Evansville in semifinal round action of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
Ranked 25th nationally by the Associated Press, Creighton (26-5) won its sixth straight game and will play Illinois State in its 12th MVC Tournament final all-time. The Bluejays are 10-1 in its previous ventures to the title game and swept the Redbird in the regular-season.
Unlike Friday's quarterfinal vs. Drake, when it fell behind 9-0, Creighton went ahead 7-0 vs. Evansville (16-15) before the Purple Aces countered with the next 10. The Bluejays broke open a close game with a 14-2 surge that featured two three-pointers from Josh Jones and a trey from Grant Gibbs, putting them up 33-21.
Creighton's offense continued to click throughout the half, making nine of its last 10 shots and scoring on 13-of-17 possessions in the final nine minutes of the half to build itself a 49-30 halftime lead. The Jays shot 60 percent in the half and were 8-of-11 from downtown, as five different men hit a trifecta.
Creighton pounded UE inside to begin the second half, as Gregory Echenique scored 11 of CU's first 25 after the break, and the lead never dropped below 15.
Echenique had 20 points to lead five Jays in double-figures. Valley Player of the Year Doug McDermott had 14 points and nine rebounds on 8-of-11 shooting while playing just 20 minutes. Also in double-figures were Antoine Young (13), Jones (12) and Will Artino (10). Young had six assists without a turnover, while freshman Austin Chatman dished a game-high seven assists on the day. Creighton shot 60.4 percent on the day, making 32-of-53 shots, and were also 12-of-23 from downtown. The Jays destroyed the Purple Aces on the glass, 43-17, and outscored UE 40-26 in the paint and 42-14 off the bench.
Kenny Harris had 17 points for Evansville, while Denver Holmes scored 11. Colt Ryan, who torched CU for 43 points in an overtime loss in Omaha last Tuesday, had 13 points on 3-of-12 shooting. The Aces shot 42.4 percent from the floor.
With the win, Creighton (27-5) will play Illinois State (20-12) in search of its record 11th MVC Tournament title. Sunday's title game will tip at 1 pm and air nationally on CBS Sports.
NOTES: Creighton improved to 2-0 all-time in MVC Tournament play vs. Evansville, having also defeated the Purple Aces in the 1999 title game ...Creighton's 27 wins are tied for second-most in school history, just two behind the 2002-03 squad that finished 29-5 ...Creighton improved to 39-20 all-time in the MVC Tournament. It's 39 wins and .661 win percentage are best in the event's history ...Creighton is 10-1 all-time in the MVC Tournament title game ...Creighton swept Illinois State this season, winning 87-78 in Normal on Jan. 13th and by a 102-74 margin in Omaha on Feb. 1st ...Creighton is 8-0 this year against teams from the state of Illinois and hasn't been unbeaten against the state since 1973-74 ...Creighton has won four straight games vs. Illinois State, all by nine points or more ...Creighton's 99 points were an MVC Tournament record for the program, nine more than the 90 it scored in 2002 vs. Illinois State.