Record-setting shooting barrage helps Creighton demolish No. 4 Villanova

The last team to shoot 50 percent or better from the field against Villanova was Alabama nearly 14 months ago.

Creighton eclipsed that with ease Monday night just on 3-pointers alone.

It was eye-opening when Creighton began the game with seven consecutive threes in less than five minutes. It was jaw-dropping when the Bluejays buried five more from behind the arc before the midway point of the first half. And by the time Creighton's 96-68 demolition of fourth-ranked Villanova was over, the Bluejays' shooting barrage had morphed into something historic.

Senior forward Ethan Wragge tied a school record with nine 3-pointers and national player of the year candidate Doug McDermott hit five more as Creighton shot a blistering 21 of 35 from behind the arc. The 21 made threes in a single game were a school record, a Big East record and the most by a Division I team since VMI also hit 21 in Nov. 2010 in a 151-92 rout of lower-division Central Penn.

Lost amid all the discussion of Creighton's torrid shooting was how significant a victory this was for the Bluejays (16-3, 6-1).

By going to Philadelphia and toppling No. 4 Villanova (16-2, 5-1), Creighton earned its first victory over an opponent ranked this high since 1963 and served notice that it's a threat to the Wildcats' hopes of claiming the Big East crown. The Bluejays' lone Big East loss came Saturday at Providence with McDermott ailing from the flu.

What's especially impressive about Creighton's shooting performance is that the opponent it came against is no slouch defensively. Opponents were shooting only 38.8 percent from the floor against the Wildcats entering play Monday night and a modest 33.4 percent from behind the arc.

Where Villanova ran into problems against Creighton was that whenever it double teamed McDermott in the post or helped on Austin Chatman or Jahenns Manigat off the dribble, its rotations weren't quick enough to cover the Bluejays' array of shooters. Quick ball movement, excellent spacing and deadly shooting forced the Wildcats to abandon their usual defensive strategy, extend their defense well behind the arc and play a smaller lineup in hopes of matching up better with Creighton.

There was a glimmer of hope when Villanova cut a 47-19 first-half deficit to 13 by halftime, but Creighton quickly adjusted after halftime. The Bluejays' lead ballooned to as many as 41 points late in the second half before they pulled the rest of their regulars and celebrated a momentous victory.

The past few weeks, Omaha had been best known as the word Peyton Manning shouts at the line of scrimmage to signal the snap count to his teammates. Now the city should also be hailed as the home of America's most dangerous 3-point shooting team.

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