Unfortunately for Panthers coach Ben Jacobson, his alliance is a little stronger with the coach for the Bluejays, his father, Greg.
Coming off an incredible performance, Creighton’s star sophomore looks to lead the 23rd-ranked Bluejays to a fourth straight victory Tuesday night against Northern Iowa, the school to which he originally committed.
Doug McDermott has quickly emerged as not only the most prolific scorer in the Missouri Valley Conference, but also one of the best in the entire country. He ranks second in the nation at 25.2 points per game and is tied for first with a 58.2 three-point shooting percentage.
While he is a confident perimeter shooter, the 6-foot-7 forward is also fully capable of driving the lane, hitting mid-range jumpers and scoring in the post. McDermott did all of those in Saturday’s 92-83 win at Bradley, finishing with a career-high 44 points while shooting 18 of 23. Thirty-one of his points came in the second half as he made his first 10 shots following the intermission.
“He’s versatile, he scores in a lot of different ways,” coach Greg McDermott said. “Anytime you got a guy that score with both shoulders down there it makes it difficult to guard. He’s got an unbelievable feel with that basketball.
“I’d like to tell you that I taught him that, but I can’t take credit.”
The younger McDermott decided to play for his father after Greg took the Creighton job following the 2009-10 season. Doug had originally committed to UNI, where his father played in the ’80s and coached the Panthers to three NCAA tournament berths between 2001 and 2006.
Jacobson released Doug McDermott from his letter of intent.
There is a strong relationship between the two families. Jacobson played for Greg McDermott at North Dakota and later served as an assistant under him at Northern Iowa (12-4, 2-2). He is also the godfather to Greg’s daughter.
This won’t be the first time Jacobson has coached against his former recruit. As a freshman last season, Doug McDermott averaged 15.0 points on 55.2 percent shooting in three games against UNI. Creighton split two regular-season matchups and won 60-57 in the MVC tournament quarterfinals.
The Bluejays (13-2, 3-1) are currently in a four-way tie atop the MVC, having won three in a row since losing their conference opener to Missouri State.
With McDermott leading the way, Creighton’s offense is its biggest strength. The Bluejays are No. 1 in scoring in the MVC (83.2), lead the nation in field-goal percentage (51.3) and are tied for first nationally in assists per game (20.2).
“We’re a pretty good offensive team,” Greg McDermott said. “We make pretty good decisions with the basketball.”
UNI’s offense finally showed some signs of life in Saturday’s 83-68 win over Drake. The Panthers shot 55.3 percent after averaging 62.5 points on 39.0 percent shooting while dropping three of their previous four games.
Anthony James, who averages a team-best 14.4 points, scored 26 and shot 9 of 15 from the floor against the Bulldogs after combining for 20 points and shooting 8 of 22 in his previous two contests. The junior guard averaged 11.3 points against Creighton last season.