McDermott scores 32, No. 12 Bluejays beat DePaul
By ERIC OLSON
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) Doug McDermott's shooting struggles didn't stop his Creighton teammates from getting him the ball with the game on the line.
McDermott scored 32 points - 11 during a 14-2 run after DePaul pulled within a point in the second half - and the No. 12 Bluejays beat the Blue Demons 78-66 on Friday night.
McDermott was 9 of 21 from the field and made 13 of 14 free throws, including 9 of 10 in the last 7 minutes as the Bluejays pulled away.
"We're a team, and anyone is capable of putting points on the board," McDermott said. "I was just trying to be aggressive. It's great that they were finding me in the right spots. I didn't finish a bunch of them, but I was able to get to the line. It's great to close out the game like that."
The Bluejays (19-3, 9-1 Big East) have won 14 of their last 15 games. DePaul (10-14, 2-9) has lost six in a row.
"Our guys fought hard, but we cannot be satisfied to fight hard and not come up with the victory," DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said.
DePaul trailed by 14 in the first half, but closed to 59-58 after dominating the boards. They had four shots on their first possession after halftime and grabbed nine of the first 10 rebounds of the second half.
Durrell McDonald's layup got DePaul to 59-58 with 7:35 to play. The Blue Demons made one more field goal before Edwind McGhee's meaningless layup with 18 seconds to play.
The Bluejays, playing for the first time in 10 days, made 13 of their first 20 shots but finished 26 of 56 (46.4 percent).
"Sometimes you don't shoot it the best and you have to find a way to win," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said, "and that's what we did tonight."
Austin Chatman added 11 points for the Bluejays. McDermott grabbed nine rebounds to go over 1,000 for his career.
Brandon Young had 16 points and Forrest Robinson added 11 for the Blue Demons, who held a 41-31 advantage on the boards but shot just 39.7 percent. R.J. Currington was held to two points after scoring in double figures in three straight games.
The game marked the return of Creighton guard Grant Gibbs, who dislocated his right kneecap in the first meeting with DePaul on Jan. 7 and missed six games. He entered to a standing ovation three minutes after the opening tip.
"It was pretty special," Gibbs said. "When injuries like that happen, you don't know if you'll get another opportunity. I'm grateful it wasn't any worse. It felt great to get that reception."
The first two times Gibbs touched the ball he assisted on baskets by McDermott. Gibbs sat out 4 minutes, then came back and threw a lob from the 3-point arc to set up McDermott's dunk that gave the Bluejays a double-digit lead.
"It was really rejuvenating to get back out there with my teammates," said Gibbs, who had seven points and eight assists in 21 minutes. "Got a little work to do to get back to 100 percent. For the most part I felt good. I've got to get my legs and my wind back."
Creighton played without backup guard Devin Brooks, who was ill. Greg McDermott said Brooks is questionable for the Bluejays' game against St. John's on Sunday in New York.
The Blue Demons played a fourth straight game without scoring leader Cleveland Melvin, who is suspended indefinitely.
Creighton won its 16th straight at home, tying the program's longest streak since it moved into the CenturyLink Center in 2003.
The game was promoted as "Lumberjack Night" in honor of bearded Minnesotan Ethan Wragge, the Bluejays' 3-point specialist. Fans were encouraged to wear flannel shirts, and fake beards and foam axes were handed out to students at the door.
Like St. John's did in Creighton's previous game, the Blue Demons tried limited Wragge's touches. He finished with nine points on 3-of-5 shooting on 3s.
"Doug keeps getting 30-plus," Greg McDermott said. "You've got a choice to make. The last two teams have taken Ethan away and Doug scored 39 and 32. So that's what we do. Put them on the same side of the floor and wish them good luck."
Updated February 8, 2014