The last time Creighton met Villanova, the Bluejays poured in a Big
East-record 21 3-pointers and cruised to a 28-point victory in
Bluejays forward Doug McDermott let the Wildcats know immediately
Sunday night that no revenge would be achieved, leading No. 18
Creighton to a 101-80 victory over No. 6 Villanova at CenturyLink
"I didn't think we could play much better than we did at Villanova,"
Creighton coach Greg McDermott said, "but I'm not sure that we
didn't play better today. We didn't have the crazy shooting night
from the 3-point line, but the other parts of the game were really
Doug McDermott, who entered the game as the nation's second-leading
scorer (25.3 points per game), produced 39 points and collected a
game-high seven rebounds. His 22 first-half points let Creighton
build a 50-37 lead, allowing the Bluejays (21-4, 11-2 Big East) to
cruise to victory and stake their claim atop the conference.
The 6-foot-8 senior forward buried a corner 3-pointer with 13:23 to
go, passing Larry Bird and moving into 13th place on the NCAA's
all-time scoring list.
"It's hard to explain right now," Doug McDermott said of passing
Bird. "It's pretty crazy, that's one of my idols. I was telling
someone after the game, imagine if he had the 3-point line and
stayed four years — he'd be way ahead of me."
Greg McDermott, Doug's father, added, "It's really hard to believe.
This has been pretty cool for our family. To watch him continue to
move up this ladder, doing it the way he's doing it, and passing
some of the people that he's passed, I think it would be hard for
any father who grew up in that era to believe that their son is
mentioned in the same sentence with somebody who is arguably one of
the best players of all-time."
McDermott shot an efficient 13 of 17 from the field, including
4-for-6 from beyond the arc. The rest of his Bluejays teammates
followed suit, as Creighton shot 34-for-53 (64.2 percent).
Villanova (22-3, 10-2) did its best to take away the 3-point arc for
most of the game, as the Bluejays hit nine 3-pointers, 12 fewer than
in the previous meeting. Creighton made them pay for it, dominating
the inside game for a 44-22 advantage in the paint.
With Creighton's best 3-point shooters possessing the size that they
do, Villanova was forced to send its best interior defenders out on
the perimeter, opening up driving lanes that the Bluejays exploited.
"They're just a tough matchup for us," Wright said. "Our style of
play and their style of play kind of leads to these kind of games,
and we got to find an answer if we face them again."
Villanova was led by senior guard James Bell, who scored 18 points
on 5-of-7 shooting (5-of-6 from 3-point range) before fouling out
with 6:11 to go after being called for a flagrant-1 foul.
McDermott reeled off his team's first 11 points, knocking down two
3-pointers as Creighton jumped out to an 11-6 lead.
A 3-pointer from Bell got Villanova to within 35-31 with 5:31 to
play in the first half. From that point, though, Creighton finished
the half on a 15-6 run. The Wildcats never got within 10 again.
The crowd, which bought up all the tickets for this game in 15
minutes back in November, provided enough energy to make sure that
Creighton kept moving forward. The Bluejays outscored Villanova
51-43 in the second half, and the lead grew to as much as 25 with
7:34 to play on a McDermott free throw.
"I live for these kind of games," Doug McDermott said. "These are
the best, especially playing against a top-10 team here in Omaha. I
don't think any of us ever thought we'd see this day. You have to
get fired up for this kind of game and atmosphere."
Creighton guard Isaiah Zierden scored 13 points and Grant Gibbs
scored 11 points, and they combined to shoot 8-for-9. Guard Devin
Brooks added 12 points, while guard Austin Chatman chipped in seven
points and eight assists.
Bluejays forward Ethan Wragge, who hit eight first-half 3-pointers
in the teams' first matchup, took just two shots this time, scoring
Villanova forward JayVaughn Pinkston scored 15 points, all in the
second half. Guard Dylan Ennis added 11 points off of the Wildcats
bench to join Bell and Pinkston in double digits.
NOTES: Before passing Larry Bird (2,850 points) on the NCAA's
all-time scoring list, Creighton F Doug McDermott (2,863 points)
moved by Otis Birdsong (2,832 points) in the first half. ... The win
was Creighton's 16th straight at home, matching its longest streak
in the 11-year history at CenturyLink Center Omaha. ... Creighton
posted a second victory over a top-10 team in the same season (both
against Villanova) for the first time in program history. ... In
Wednesday's win over DePaul, Villanova matched its best-ever 24-game
stretch in program history at 22-2. ... Villanova plays its third
straight road game Tuesday night in Providence. ... Creighton
travels to Milwaukee to play Marquette on Wednesday.