After rallying late to beat Southern Illinois at Carbondale for third place Monday in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, Creighton now trains its sights on Southern Illinois at Edwardsville.
The Bluejays (5-1) host the Cougars (2-4) on Saturday in Omaha, Neb. Creighton will try to keep the momentum going from a fast finish Monday, when it trailed by eight at the last TV timeout before ending the game with a 12-2 run for a 66-64 win.
Freshman point guard Ryan Nembhard provided the game-winner with a 10-foot floater in the lane as the buzzer sounded.
"Coach (Greg McDermott) kind of had it drawn up for me to get the ball on the run and make a play -- score, pass, whatever," Nembhard said.
Nembhard, the younger brother of Gonzaga guard Andrew Nembhard, was an all-tournament team pick after averaging 12.3 points, 4.7 assists and 3.3 rebounds in three games. He authored Creighton's first game-winner as time expired since Booker Woodfox eliminated Wichita State from the Missouri Valley Conference tournament in 2009.
Nembhard leads four Bluejays in double figures at 14.2 points per game, while Ryan Hawkins averages 13.0 points and a team-high 7.0 rebounds. Alex O'Connell chips in 12.5 points and Ryan Kalkbrenner hits for 12.3, shooting 72.1 percent from the field.
As for SIUE, it enters after dropping two of three last weekend at a tournament in Youngstown, Ohio. The Cougars lost an 86-73 decision to Division I newcomer St. Thomas (Minn.) despite canning 50 percent of their shots.
The problem was defense. SIUE allowed the Tommies to sink 50 percent from the field, including 41.2 percent (14 of 34) on 3-pointers. It also was outscored 16-5 at the foul line, thanks in part to drawing three technicals.
"You have to harness your emotions," said head coach Brian Barone. "There is a fine line between playing with reckless abandon and with a certain amount of focus."
Freshman guard Ray'Sean Taylor paces the Cougars with 16.8 points per game and also averages 2.2 steals per game.
--Field Level Media