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Friars crunched by Creighton, McDermott 88-73

Sunday, March 09, 2014

 

If you’ve never seen Creighton’s Doug McDermott play, do yourself a favor before too much longer?

Just watch him. He may be the best walk-on to have ever laced up sneakers, giving up his scholarship this year so an injured teammate could return for an extra season. And on the floor, when he’s good, the Creighton Blue Jays are very good. When he’s great, Creighton is unstoppable – and that’s exactly what he and the Blue Jays were Saturday night at the Century Link Center in Omaha, NE.

They were great, and McDermott’s performance was memorable, scoring a career high 45 points on Senior Night as 13th ranked CU ran away from Providence 88-73.

In the process, McDermott became just the 8th player in Division I college basketball history to surpass 3000 points in his career. He needed 34 points before the game to hit the mark, and he had it with 10 minutes still to play in the second half. McDermott was that dominant. And with his talents leading the way for his teammates – who were only too glad to accept the ride alongside greatness, the Friars really weren’t in it after the first five minutes.

“I’m really proud of my kids for the way they fought back in the second half,” Friar head coach Ed Cooley said, “but we came out and didn’t match their intensity at the start. That environment is incredible, and McDermott is the National Player of the Year. But we didn’t control the tempo like we needed to, and didn’t defend like we should. We helped dig the hole.”

With the Blue Jays holding an 8-7 lead with 14:43 to play in the opening half, McDermott hit a driving layup that sent Creighton into an offensive stratosphere seldom seen in the Big East Conference. During a monster 29-7 run over the next 8:02, the Blue Jays’ offense connected on 11 consecutive field goal attempts. Naturally, the run was punctuated by a McDermott three-pointer, as CU cruised into halftime with a comfortable 45-22 cushion.

Providence (20-11, 10-8 Big East) was simply overwhelmed. Catching a team clearly motivated by two straight losses, and with a superstar player on the brink of history, it would have been hard for anyone to beat the Blue Jays this night. Down as they might have been and true to form this season, PC didn’t just pack it in…outscoring Creighton 51-43 in the second half, pulling within 15 in the first five minutes before a McDermott dunk with 13:22 remaining closed out any comeback hopes. Bryce Cotton, held scoreless in the first half for the first time this season, bounced back with 23 second half points. LaDontae Henton also had a solid game with 21 points, and Kadeem Batts contributed his 9th double-double effort of the year with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Even with those numbers, the Friars couldn’t get any closer than 14 points during the second half, as the Blue Jays continued their torrid shooting…hitting 64.7% of their shots from the floor for the game, a season high against PC’s defense. Included in the second half fireworks was another straight string of shots hitting the hoop, as CU hit 12 in a row during one stretch. Man-to-man, zone, trapping, pressing…no matter the defense, none of it worked against Creighton’s offense, led by a walk-on in McDermott.

It was that kind of night, one in which college basketball history was made. Fortunately for the Friars, they’ve still got a little time left this season to complete their own memorable finish.

Friar Notes

McDermott has now scored 3011 points in his four-year career, surpassing Hersey Hawkins for 7th all-time on the college list…his previous career high was 44, and his season high was 39 (twice) before Saturday…want an example of how dominant he was? McDermott, who led the Big East (and the country) in scoring at 25.9 ppg coming in, was 17-for-25 shooting on the night by himself, while the rest of his team combined finished 16-for 26…junior guard Austin Chatman was the only other Blue Jay in double figures with 11 points...McDermott was on scholarship at CU during his first three seasons, but gave it up when guard and fellow senior Grant Gibbs regained a year of eligibility due to injury and returned for a sixth season. Needing an available scholarship so he could come back, McDermott gave his up, and his father (head coach Greg McDermott) is paying his son’s way this year…Creighton (24-6, 14-4 Big East) shot 50% from three, and outrebounded PC 32-31…the Friars shot 43% for the game, 57% in the second half against the Blue Jays, but couldn’t close the gap on the scoreboard thanks to 73% shooting by CU in the 2nd…the crowd of 18,868 was the largest in the history of Creighton basketball, and most of the fans stayed for Senior Night ceremonies that were conducted after the game had completed…Providence finishes in a tie for 3rd in the Big East with Xavier and St. John’s, and will play in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York next Thursday as the #4 seed against the 5th seeded Red Storm. That game will tip-off at 2:30 pm as the second game of the afternoon session. Top-seeded Villanova will play the 8-9 winner (either Seton Hall or Butler) at 12 noon, and the night games will feature #2 seed Creighton against the 7-10 winner (Georgetown or DePaul) at 7:00 pm, while 3rd seeded Xavier will play #6 Marquette at 9:30. The PC-SJU broadcast will begin at 2:15 pm Thursday afternoon on 103.7 FM and friars.com…the next Ed Cooley Show will also take place in New York, Wednesday night at 7:00 pm from P.J. Clarke’s in Manhattan (also on 103.7 and friars.com)…

 

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