OMAHA, Neb. -- Sophomore Will Artino tied a career-high with 13 points and in a career-high 17 minutes to lead the Creighton men's basketball team to a 59-45 win over Southern Illinios on Tuesday, Feb. 19.
The win lifted Creighton to 22-6 on the season and 11-5 in Missouri Valley Conference play. Southern Illinois, meanwhile, fell to 11-16 overall and 4-12 in MVC action.
The Jays created some early separation in the opening seven minutes, racing out to a 12-2 lead. Four Bluejays scored during the run, including three-pointers from juniors Ethan Wragge and Jahenns Manigat, but the real key was the Creighton defense. The Jays held Southern Illinois to just 1-of-10 shooting (.100) in the opening seven minutes.
The Salukis chipped away at the Creighton lead throughout the half, but the Bluejays refused to relinquish their edge, taking a 28-22 edge in at the break.
Creighton's lead hovered near six through the opening portion of the second half when the Jays got a boost from the bench. Leading 35-31 with 13:56 remaining, Artino delivered back-to-back buckets on the block. Freshman Nevin Johnson followed with two free throws to push the Jays advantage back to double-digits for the first time since Creighton led 12-2.
The Bluejays never allowed the Salukis back within striking distance, Artino punctuated the evening with a layup in the final minute to give Creighton its largest lead of the night at 59-45.
Artino and senior Grant Gibbs led all scorers with 13 points, while junior Doug McDermott finished with 10 points. McDermott also led Creighton on the boards with seven rebounds. Despite a season-low two three-point field goals, the Jays made shot 51.3 percent from the field overall and outscored SIU at the charity stripe, 17-6. Creighton also won the battle of the boards 31-27 to help offset SIU's 13-4 edge in second-chance points.
Southern Illinois had two players post double-figures, Jeff Early with 12 points and Anthony Beane Jr. with 10 points. SIU's leading scorer, Desmar Jackson (15.4 ppg.) was in foul trouble all night and held to five points on 1-of-9 shooting from the floor. SIU shot 35.3 percent from the field on the night and were 3-for-13 from behind the arc.
Creighton returns to the court on Saturday at 5 pm Central when it takes on Saint Mary's in a Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters contest that will air nationally on ESPN.
NOTES: Doug McDermott was honored prior to the game in recognition of scoring his 2,000th point on Saturday at Evansville ... Creighton has won 11 straight meetings over Southern Illinois, including
a 6-0 mark for Greg McDermott ...Creighton improved to 63-0 at
CenturyLink Center Omaha against teams with a .500 record or worse, and
has now won 73 straight home games vs. such teams ... Creighton never trailed in the victory, it was the 41st time in 169 games in CenturyLink Omaha the Jays have done that, including five times this season (Longwood, Saint Joseph's, Tulsa, Drake and Southern Illinois) ... Creighton's final point total of 59 points was the lowest total for the Jays in a victory this season ... The two three-pointers made by the Jays were a season-low ... Doug McDermott's two free throws give him a CenturyLink Center Omaha single-season record of 82 at home this season.