All-American Doug McDermott had his third straight double-double and became the first junior in MVC history to reach 2,000 career points as Creighton overcame a 16-point deficit to post a 71-68 win at Evansville on Saturday.
McDermott is the 15th player in league history to reach 2,000 points. It took him just 101 games, faster than all but one of the last 20 Wooden Award winners (Tyler Hansbrough, 99).
Creighton (21-6, 10-5 MVC) snapped a three-game losing streak in the process, while becoming the first MVC school to post a road win on Evansville (14-13, 7-8 MVC) this season. It also marks the 17th straight season that Creighton has won 10 or more conference games.
With Creighton focused on shutting down UE sharpshooter Colt Ryan, it was his teammates that did the heavy lifting in the opening minutes. Three-pointers by Ned Cox and Adam Wing helped Evansville to a 6-0 lead. The Jays got a three-pointer from Jahenns Manigat to dent the scoring column, only to give up three straight scores inside from Egidijus Mockevicius (twice) and Troy Taylor to make it 12-3. A bucket from Colt Ryan made 14-3 as UE scored on its first six trips.
The Jays would draw within 16-15 and have two chances to take the lead, only to come up empty on a turnover followed by a missed shot. The Purple Aces answered with a 13-0 run that was capped two consecutive treys by Cox that made it 29-15 and forced a second Bluejay timeout. After the break reserve guard Jordan Nelson scored to give the Aces their largest lead of the half at 31-15.
The Jays answered with a 10-0 run that included McDermott’s first three scores, a three-pointer by Ethan Wragge and two foul shots from Austin Chatman, to trim UE’s lead to 31-26. CU’s defense, which allowed UE to start 13-for-20 from the floor, held the Aces to just one field goal in its last 11 shots in the final 7:45 of the half, and the Jays trailed 36-31 at intermission.
CU would continue its comeback in the second half on the defensive end, while its offense began to click. The Jays got within one point on a McDermott step-back three-pointer, then took their first lead of the day at 42-40 when Avery Dingman swished a trey. Will Artino closed out the 8-0 run with a bucket, giving CU a 44-40 lead.
The Jays stretched their lead to 53-48 on a Grant Gibbs lay-in with 11:05 left, and pushed it to six on a Nevin Johnson free throw. UE got within 54-54 on Cox’s fourth three-pointer, but McDermott scored inside, Wragge hit a three-pointer and Gibbs scored on a tip-in as CU went up 61-53 with 6:40 left.
Evansville fought back, getting a Wing putback to close within one point, but Gibbs scored inside after using their final timeout with 1:41 left. Cox then was fouled with 1:11 left, sinking both, as CU’s lead was cut to one point. Gibbs then split two free throws to make it a two-point game.
UE had multiple chances to go ahead or tie in the next possession, missing three shots before CU forced a shot-clock violation. The Jays would inbound the ball to Ethan Wragge, who sank two foul shots with 20.6 left to make it a four-point lead. Evansville’s Wing would be fouled with 9.3 left and sink two foul shots, as CU’s lead was down to two.
McDermott would be fouled with 7.7 left and Creighton up by two. He missed the first free throw but sank the second. A tying try just before the buzzer from Ned Cox rimmed out, and Creighton earned the win.
McDermott paced the Jays with 21 points and 10 rebounds for his third straight double-double, while also adding four assists. Chatman scored 12 points while Gibbs and Manigat both scored nine too. Creighton shot 52.2 percent from the field, 50 percent from three-point range and 82.4 percent at the line.
Evansville was led by 18 points from Cox, while Ryan finished with 13 points and 10 assists. Also in double-figures was Wing, who scored 10 in his first career start.
Creighton returns home Tuesday evening when it hosts Southern Illinois in a 7:05 pm game vs. Southern Illinois.