On Monday, November 22nd, the Creighton Bluejays will square off against old-time rival and former comrade in the Missouri Valley, the Southern Illinois Salukis. This meeting will bring back memories of hatred for both sides; the Bluejays and Salukis have played 88 games spanning over 50 years, as early as 1970. For older Creighton fans, this game will be a good consolation prize for playing in the consolation game of the Paradise Jam, with the winner placing third in the event. The Salukis should also be a decent challenge for the Bluejays, finishing fifth in the media poll in the Missouri Valley, returning second team all-MVC (Marcus Domask) and third team all-MVC (Lance Jones) team members, and is bring back 96.6% of scoring from last year.
How to Watch Creighton vs. Southern Illinois
Time: 5:45pm ET
Watch Online: ESPN App vis ESPN3
Colorado State wanted to run with the Jays. The Rams have an adjusted tempo of 71.2 according to KenPom, meaning Colorado State generally wants to play 71.2 possessions per game. The Salukis of Southern Illinois (2-2) want to cut that number down to 66.3 possessions per game, again according to KenPom’s adjusted tempo. Southern Illinois slows the game down and beats you late in the clock. For comparison, Creighton has had four of their five games exceed 70 possessions. Southern Illinois has had one of their four games exceed 70 possessions. The Bluejays’s lowest possession game was 66. The Salukis? 60.
If Creighton cannot force the Salukis to play faster, the slower pace will amplify everything that happens. For example, if CU turns the ball over, they have significantly less chances and time to rectify that mistake. It goes the other way too; if Creighton makes a three, Southern Illinois has less chances to make up for the lost points. With this in mind, the Bluejays must make it an emphasis to take smart shots and string together good possessions that end in shot attempts. Turnovers against Southern Illinois’s pace of play will doom the Jays. They did this well yesterday against Colorado State, despite the score. Creighton shot 55% from the field and only gave up the ball 13 times. The Bluejays will need to continue this against Southern Illinois if they want to win.
Southern Illinois has started three guards, one forward, and one center each of their first four games. Dalton Banks (G) plays, on average, the fewest minutes for the Salukis’s starting lineup, and has failed to log a field goal on the short season. He has six points on the season from a 6-8 performance at the line. The other guards (Lance Jones, Steven Verplancken) are double-digit scorers. Jones is averaging 19.5 PPG and 1.8 SPG, but has been a turnover machine with 18 turnovers so far this season. Verplancken has been a monster from three (11-20) this season, averaging 12.3 PPG, and is playing the most minutes this season alongside Marcus Domask. Domask, the starting forward, averages 12.8 PPG with the most assists on the team (3.5 APG) and the most free-throw attempts on the team (13-20 from the line). The final part of the starting lineup is Kyler Filewich, who is avering 4.3 PPG and 3.3 RPG as the starting center. The first players off the bench against Northeastern, Ben Coupet Jr. and J.D. Muila, both average 7.5 PPG and 3.3 PPG, respectively. Three of the starters (Jones, Domask, and Verplancken) average over 30 MPG.
In order for Creighton to win...
...they need to rebound at a high level, similarly to what they have been doing. Southern Illinois is averaging 31.8 RPG, and only 8 offensive rebounds per game. Creighton averages 43.6 RPG, and 10.2 offensive rebounds per game. Creighton is taller at every position, except point guard, compared to Southern Illinois. This should help to limit offensive rebounds for the Salukis, and help to speed up the game by ending possessions faster and letting the Bluejays get out and run.
Creighton also needs to drive the ball down low. Southern Illinois is 2-2 on the season with their opponents only shooting 21% from three. This is lower than Creighton’s three-point shooting average, showing that the Salukis are vulnerable to losing a game even if their opponent is not making threes. If the Bluejays make threes, it will be icing on the cake, but it isn’t necessarily the end of the work to not make threes against this Southern Illinois team. SIU also manages to get fouled at a high rate; five different players have fouled out over four games. If Creighton can punch the ball down low to Ryan Kalkbrenner or KeyShawn Feazell, as well as find people like Alex O’Connell or Arthur Kaluma driving in transition, the Bluejays could put Southern Illinois in a concerning amount of foul trouble.
(Credit: Sports-Reference and KenPom for Creighton and Southern Illinois statistics)