NORMAL, Ill. - Creighton leading man Doug McDermott didn't deliver his typical All-America performance, but the show went on for the No. 16 Bluejays.
Reserve forward Ethan Wragge led all scorers with 18 points, Grant Gibbs delivered a solid all-around game and the Bluejays made a critical defensive stop in the last 30 seconds for a 79-72 victory at Illinois State in a rematch of last year's Missouri Valley Conference championship game.
In a contest where each team sank 13 3-pointers, Creighton (13-1, 2-0) denied the Redbirds (9-5, 0-2) revenge for an 83-79 overtime defeat last March in St. Louis. The Bluejays did so despite getting only 15 points from McDermott, who averages 23.5.
But the son of coach Greg McDermott was still heard from in key junctures. Doug McDermott's alley-oop layup off Austin Chatman's feed gave Creighton a 73-68 edge with 1:27 remaining, and McDermott iced it with two foul shots with 7.9 seconds remaining.
Tyler Brown and Bryant Allen each scored 15 points to pace Illinois State, but it came up dry on the game's most important possession. After forcing a turnover in the last minute, the Redbirds had a shot to tie with a 3, but couldn't find a clean look and settled for a Jackie Carmichael airball from the corner.
It was ironic that a missed 3 decided the game, because both teams made it the focal point of their offense for most of the night.
After Brown sandwiched McDermott's 3 with two of his own to start the game, Creighton hit Illinois State with a 17-2 run, fueled mostly by Gibbs and the sweet-shooting Wragge.
Gibbs scored seven straight points with a pair of driving layups and a 3, while Wragge drilled three straight 3s in a span of 1 minute, 51 seconds. That forced first-year Redbirds coach Dan Muller to burn a timeout with his team trailing 20-8 at the 13:07 mark.
Creighton still led 42-30 with 2:15 remaining in the half after Wragge drained a 25-footer from the top of the key, his fifth 3 of the half. But Illinois State ignited a near-sellout crowd by scoring the first half's last nine points, including a five-point trip to end the half.
Following Carmichael's stickback, the Redbirds chased down his missed free throw and played for the final shot. Reserve Nick Zeisloft cashed it in with a 3 from the right wing -- the 17th of the half between the teams.
Notes: Illinois State entered Wednesday's game as the only team in the country to have three different players score 30 points in a game this season -- Carmichael, Brown and Bryant Allen ... Carmichael blocked the 161st shot of his career, a new school record ... The Bluejays' 12 double-digit wins are tied for tops in Division I with Pittsburgh.