Creighton overcomes Seton Hall 79-66

ED BARMAKIAN (Associated Press)
The Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- The NBA scouts came out in force to see Creighton senior Doug McDermott and it didn't take long for the 6-8 forward to show that he was playing a level above the other college players sharing the floor with him.

''In my opinion, the best player in the country,'' Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. ''There is nobody better that I've seen,''

McDermott collected 30 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in leading Creighton to its seventh in a row, 79-66, over Seton Hall in a Big East Conference game Saturday.

In the game, McDermott extended his streak of consecutive free throws made to 45, before missing one with 5:46 left.

Nine scouts from the NBA were at the game to see McDermott, including two from the Brooklyn Nets. Also present were representatives from the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Charlotte Bobcats, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards.

''I never thought I'd be in this position,'' McDermott said in response to the crowd of NBA scouts. ''To have those guys come and watch is pretty cool. I've come a long way since early in my career. The NBA has always been a dream of mine. To be in a position to maybe make that happen is pretty cool.''

The scouts probably saw as much as they needed to size up McDermott in the first 10 minutes of the game. By then, the smooth-moving forward had scored 18 points, displaying his multi-faceted talents. His first two points came on a back-door layup, followed by a 3-pointer and a lean-in baseline jumper. His onslaught included a follow of his own missed shot, a drive to the rim, two foul shots and a 3-pointer.

By the time he completed a left-handed drive for two points, McDermott had 18 points and had staked Creighton (12-2, 2-0 Big East) to a 28-18 lead with 10:23 left in the half.

''It was a great start,'' McDermott said. ''They never double or tripled me, they gave me a lot of space there and I got off to a good start and it carried for the rest of the game,'' McDermott said.

In the first half, McDermott had 22 points, seven boards and two assists in powering the Bluejays to a 45-33 lead.

''It's hard to get off to that great of a start two halves in a row,'' McDermott said. ''I wasn't really trying to score too much, just trying to get everyone involved and do what it takes to win.''

It was the first meeting between the schools since the 1991 NCAA Tournament, a second-round victory for Seton Hall.

McDermott was complemented by Jahenns Manigat with 14 points, Grant Gibbs with 12 and Devin Brooks with 11 for Creighton.

Sterling Gibbs had 17 points, Brian Oliver 12 and Patrik Auda with 10 for Seton Hall (10-5, 1-1).

Ethan Wragge's 3-pointer handed Creighton a 69-48 lead with 11:46 left before Seton Hall put together a 9-0 run that cut its deficit to 69-57. Auda then missed two free throws for the Pirates before McDermott followed his own miss to give Creighton a 71-57 lead with 7:09 showing.

Early in the second half, Fuquan Edwin gave Seton Hall a spark with his hustle. First, he made a 3-pointer and then made a hustling save of a loose ball that carried him over the Creighton coaching staff and onto the floor behind the bench. Sterling Gibbs completed the play at the other end with a Pirate basket before time was called.

But the Bluejays quickly regained control. Grant Gibbs drove for two and hit the bonus free throw for a three-point play before Manigat nailed a 3-pointer off a pass from McDermott to stake Creighton to a 58-43 lead with 15:23 to go.

McDermott dominated the scoring in the first half, hitting 8 of 15 shots for 22 points. He got his last two points of the first half when he sank both free throws following a technical foul on Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard. The Bluejays took a 45-33 lead into the break.

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