Creighton is the nation’s second-best three-point shooting team, knocking down triples at a 43.3% clip. Nearly 40% of their field goal attempts come from beyond the arc. One of the reasons that the Bluejays collect assists on 62.5% of their made shots is that they are so good at moving the ball around the perimeter and creating open looks from deep.
It’s not a secret that this team is built around two things: Doug McDermott and shooting threes.
So it may come as a surprise to you that the key to Creighton’s season is a senior that has never taken a three-pointer wearing a Bluejays uniform.
Gregory Echenique is a monster. He’s 6-foot-9 and built like bulldozer, but he’s quicker and more explosive than you would expect from a guy with his kind of girth. Put more simply, Echenique has the combination of size and athleticism that you rarely see down in the Missouri Valley; there is a reason he was able to average double-figures at Rutgers before transferring.
That was evident on Saturday as Echenique finished with 16 points, nine boards and four blocks as the No. 16 Bluejays knocked off Indiana State 79-66 to move to 3-0 in the Missouri Valley.
Doug McDermott added 25 points and nine boards and Austin Chatman chipped in with 13 points and nine assists, but it was Echenique’s presence that makes the difference. No one on Indiana State — no one in the country, regardless of level — can score easily in the post against the big Venezuelan. That much cannot be said about McDermott or Ethan Wragge.
Neither of those two can rebound, carve out space or block shots at the same level as Echenique. His ability to be a scoring threat on the block takes some of the pressure off of Creighton’s shooters; if teams allow him to go one-on-one on the block, he can hurt them. If they help, someone is going to get an open three.
Echenique isn’t Creighton’s best player, but he may be their most valuable and irreplaceable.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Brandon Sherrod scored 25 points — and set the Division I single-season record for consecutive field goals made — to help Yale beat Columbia 86-72 Friday and take over sole possession of first place in the Ivy League standings.
Justin Sears added 27 points for the Bulldogs (14-5, 5-0), who have won nine in a row, their longest win streak since closing the 1961-62 regular season with nine-straight wins.
Sherrod made his first five field-goal attempts, extending his streak of consecutive field goals made to 30 and breaking the Division I single-season record of 26 straight previously held by Eastern Michigan’s James Thompson and Bowling Green’s Torian Oglesby.
He hadn’t missed a field goal since January 16th.
Two foul shots by Sherrod sparked a 12-0 run by Yale that made it 72-58 with 3:40 left.
The Bulldogs made 14 of 16 free throws in the final three minutes to seal it.
Maodo Lo had 21 points and a career-high seven steals for Columbia (15-7, 4-1), which had its six-game win streak snapped.
As if this season wasn’t going poorly enough for Missouri, the Tigers suspended two players on Friday after the pair received citations for possession of drug paraphernalia.
Forwards Jakeenan Gant and Russell Woods were suspended from the program as a result of the citations, according to a release.
“Student-athletes Jakeenan Gant and Russell Woods were notified earlier today they have been suspended for tomorrow’s game at Alabama, per athletic department policy,” the statement read. “Their status with the program will be reevaluated next week.”
The suspension stems from some terrible luck for the two players, who live with two other people they were randomly assigned in an apartment complex off campus, a source told NBC Sports. One of those two roommates was being investigated by police for a robbery that occurred on December 9th, and when the cops showed up to raid the apartment on January 15th, they found two “marijuana smoking devices” in the bedrooms of each of the players.
The players probably shouldn’t be smoking weed, but that is a tough way to get caught with your marijuana smoking devices.
Missouri has already been banned from the 2016 postseason following an NCAA investigation into violations committed by the program during the 2013-14 season.
Missouri is 1-8 in the SEC and 8-14 on the season.