Doug McDermott scored a season-high 30 points, Ethan Wragge added 17 off the bench and Austin Chatman had a career-high 14 points as No. 14 Creighton improved to 5-0 with a 84-74 win over Wisconsin on Friday evening in the 12th Annual Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational.
Creighton will advance to Saturday’s 10 pm Central championship game against Arizona State, which beat Arkansas 83-68 in the first semifinal.
Scoring was fast an furious in the opening 13 minutes, with the teams exchanging seven lead changes and five ties as it was tied at 25-all. McDermott had nine points and Wragge eight early on to help the Jays. Wisconsin broke free to take a 34-29 lead and prompt a Greg McDermotttimeout, only to have the Jays answer with aGregory Echenique putback and a Chatman three-pointer, forcing a Wisconsin timeout.
The Badgers would take a 39-38 halftime lead, paced by 11 points from Jared Berggren. Creighton was paced in the opening stanza by McDermott, who had 13 points and five rebounds at the break. Creighton, which entered the game shooting 57 percent from the field, hit just 14-of-37 shots in the opening period. CU did own the glass, 25-17, at the break.
Creighton didn’t waste any time taking over early in the second half. McDermott scored inside andJahenns Manigat hit a three-pointer. After two McDermott foul shots, Austin Chatman hit a corner trey, McDermott hit two more foul shots and Josh Jones a lay-up, giving CU a 55-48 lead with 13:27 left.
Berggren would help UW come back, scoring on a pair of putbacks to get the Badgers within two, then adding two fouls shots to tie it with 10:03 to play at 55-all. The Badgers would actually take a 60-58 lead on two more Berggren shots from the charity stripe. But CU’s Wragge answered with a triple, returing the Bluejay lead to 61-60 with 7:02 to go, and it would not trail again.
Creighton consistently scored against UW’s vaunted defense, building a 76-64 lead with 2:17 to play after four straight Grant Gibbs free throws. Creighton would make its free throws down the stretch, sealing its fourth straight win against the Big Ten in the last two seasons.
McDermott finished with 30 points and shared team-high rebounding honors with Echenique with 8. Chatman scored 14 points and had just one turnover in 36 minutes, while Wragge sank four treys and scored 17 overall in 19 minutes. The Jays shot 46.6 percent from the floor, including 8-of-20 from behind the arc, and sank 22-of-23 free throws to start the game before two misses in the final minute. The Jays outrebounded UW 40-34 and outscored hte Badgers 30-24 in the paint.
UW was led by a career-high 27 points from Berggren on 9-of-14 shooting, while Ryan Evans scored 15 and George Marshall tallied 13. The Badgers shot 40.9 percent and were 8-of-27 from downtown.
Saturday’s final will tip at 10 pm Central and air nationally on ESPNU.