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Updated: Monday, March 10, 2003 9:05 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL PREVIEW
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No. 19 Creighton (28-4) vs. Southern Ill (24-5)
CREIGHTON BLUEJAYS
Creighton Bluejays
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SOUTHERN ILLINOIS SALUKIS
Southern Illinois Salukis
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ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- Southern Illinois tries to capture its first Missouri Valley Conference title since 1995 on Monday night when it meets No. 19 Creighton in the championship game at the Savvis Center.

Southern Illinois (24-5) and Creighton are meeting in the final for the second straight season after the Bluejays posted an 84-76 triumph last year. Creighton is seeking its fourth title in the last five seasons.

Jermaine Dearman scored 17 points and Darren Brooks added 14 as Southern Illinois advanced with a 64-55 victory over Southwest Missouri State on Sunday. The top-seeded Salukis have won seven straight games and 14 of 15.

Star guard Kent Williams had a rough night, managing only nine points on 2-of-9 shooting after scoring just 12 in a quarterfinal victory over Illinois State. Dearman continues to build a case for tournament MVP honors after a 26-point, 12-rebound effort in the quarters.

Southern Illinois seems to be in good position for an NCAA Tournament berth even with a loss on Monday. The last nine MVC regular-season champions that failed to win the conference tournament all received bids.

Creighton (28-4) posted its second straight one-point victory of the tournament on Saturday by edging Wichita State, 70-69. Kyle Korver scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half to rally the Bluejays from a 13-point deficit.

Larry House scored 12 points and a trio of Bluejays all netted 10 points apiece. Korver also had just three points at halftime before finishing with 15 in Friday's 57-56 triumph over Indiana State.

The teams split a pair of meetings in the regular season, with each winning at home. Southern Illinois earned the top seed with a 70-62 victory over Creighton last Saturday.

Williams scored 24 points and Dearman netted 18 for Southern Illinois, which reached the "Sweet Sixteen" in last year's NCAA Tournament before losing to Connecticut. Korver had 10 points and 13 rebounds to lead Creighton.


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