Creighton guard Grant Gibbs knows his team can’t always rely on high-scoring forward Doug McDermott, so it helps that Antoine Young has started to contribute a bit more.
While McDermott will try to record his 1,000th point, Young looks to build on his best scoring performance of the season Friday night when the 23rd-ranked Bluejays visit Illinois State.
McDermott has led the way for Creighton (14-2, 4-1 Missouri Valley) as one of the nation’s leading scorers with 24.5 points per game on 62.2 percent shooting - 56.1 percent from 3-point range.
With his star teammate limited, Young scored 21 points and hit a key 3-pointer with 2:07 remaining in a 63-60 win. The Bluejays’ fourth victory in a row helped them remain in a tie for first place in the conference.
“They did a good job of doubling Doug and kind of messing with him and trying to break his rhythm. We have to play off him in those situations,” Gibbs said. “The rest of us have to be ready to knock down shots and make plays when they double- and triple-team him.”
Young has answered the call lately, scoring 18 or more points in three of the last four games after having one such performance over the first 12 contests. He had 21 points as Creighton snapped a five-game skid at Illinois State with a 64-53 win last season.
McDermott, who has 973 points in 55 games, was held to six on 2-of-7 shooting during that victory, but had a team-best 18 in a 75-59 home win over the Redbirds on Feb. 16.
Current Charlotte Bobcats coach Paul Silas scored his 1,000th point in his 47th game at Creighton in 1963. More recently, it took former NBA player Rodney Buford 59 games to accomplish that feat in 1997.
McDermott will try to reach the milestone while helping the Bluejays improve on their 5-1 road record. That mark is their best to open a season since they won seven of eight in 1974-75.
Illinois State (11-5, 3-2), meanwhile, is 62-15 at Redbird Arena in coach Tim Jankovich’s four-plus seasons and 8-1 there in 2011-12. The Redbirds, however, are 0-5 against ranked opponents at their current home and have dropped 21 in a row overall versus Top 25 foes dating back to 1987.
They haven’t beaten a ranked team in Normal, Ill., since topping then-No. 9 Tulsa on March 3, 1984. They’ll try to end that drought after losing 65-62 at Wichita State on Tuesday, when freshman Nic Moore scored 20 of his season-high 23 points in the second half but his team’s rally from a 16-point halftime deficit fell just short.
Junior guard Tyler Brown scored in double figures for the fourth straight game (13 points), but leading scorer Jackie Carmichael - averaging 12.9 points - was held to single digits for the third time in four games with nine points.
“Losing never feels good but you hope when you put forth a tremendous effort as we did, you hope that positive things come from it,” Jankovich said.
Illinois State leads the series 40-26 but Creighton has won 18 of the past 28 meetings. The Bluejays are 7-24 all-time in Normal but have earned six of those wins since 2000.