Wichita State's Gabe Blair (32) and Garrett Stutz (41) defend Creighton's Justin Carter.In the span of two hours, beating Creighton went from monumental to routine. With their history, the Bluejays deserve big-game status. This season, however, the Bluejays look like one of those teams the Shockers expect to beat, especially at home. It’s surprising to consider Creighton is more worried about avoiding a Thursday game in St. Louis than it is fighting for first place. That makes Saturday’s rematch in Omaha interesting.
For the first time in a long time, WSU will be favored on the road against Creighton. Before the season, it was one of those games the Shockers could afford to lose because we expected the Jays to be a contender. Now, it looks different. Northern Iowa already owns wins at CU, SIU and Illinois State. Read that again. To keep pace, the Shockers need to win road games, and Creighton looks like a place it needs to win. Then there’s the matter of Indiana State on Wednesday, another tough opponent.
At 15-2 with a win at Missouri State, WSU deserves some top 25 run again. I suspect the Shockers will earn some points on Monday. They could rise quickly with two wins this week. They could jump into the poll by beating UNI at home on Jan. 19 and winning at Drake on Jan. 23. Long way away, but fun to think about.It’s still shocking to watch Creighton and not see much fire. After watching Ben Walker, Kyle Korver, Nate Funk, Booker Woodfox etc., for years, you expect somebody in a Bluejays uniform to step up and make big plays. It never happened Saturday. That may change at the Qwest Center. If Creighton is six points better at home, WSU will have to make some plays with pressure on it. WSU established physical dominance on Saturday. Can it do the same thing in Omaha?
Around the Valley
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Creighton is searching for focus and intensity after the loss at WSU. Those are often buzzwords for “We’re not sure what happened.” The Jays did out-rebound WSU, a stat that usually means something. Saturday, WSU’s control of other factors rendered it mostly moot.Wow. Northern Iowa holds Illinois State to 44 points at Redbird Arena. The Panthers are sucking the suspense out of the race with three quality road wins by mid-January. The Panthers faded a bit in February last season after running up a big lead. The rest of the Valley better hope that happens again. UNI absolutely deserves to be in the top 25 after winning 13 in a row, including at Iowa State, at Creighton, at SIU and at Illinois State.UNI big men Jordan Eglseder and Adam Koch controlled the Redbirds on offense and defense.Unrest in Peoria, where Journal-Star columnist Kirk Wessler calls Bradley coach Jim Les and his Braves soft after losing at Missouri State. Les calls his team’s defense “horrendous.”SIU is in trouble when it lets Drake win at SIU Arena.