McDermott's 24 leads No. 15 Creighton's 87-58 win

ERIC OLSON (AP Sports Writer)
The Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Doug McDermott wanted to find his offensive rhythm right away Sunday, and his Creighton teammates obliged.

The returning All-American scored the 15th-ranked Bluejays' first seven points and had 20 of his 24 in the opening half to start their 87-58 victory against Presbyterian.

McDermott had been held to five points and was in foul trouble against UAB on Wednesday, but he bounced back to make 7 of 9 shots and all eight of his free throws.

''I tried not to change anything,'' McDermott said. ''I wanted to go out and play my game and not let that last game affect how I approach the next game. I was really focused and confident and got off to a good start, which made me play better throughout the game.''

McDermott's initial basket came off the first of Austin Chatman's career-high 11 assists, and the next two were off feeds from Grant Gibbs.

''My teammates did a good job of finding me in transition,'' McDermott said, ''and that got me going right off the bat.''

Ethan Wragge scored 18 points for the Bluejays (3-0), all coming on his career high-tying six 3-pointers, and 12 of the 16 Bluejays who got minutes scored.

Jordan Downing, who averaged 6.5 points in Presbyterian's first two games, led the Blue Hose (0-3) with a career-high 25 points.

Khalid Mutakabbir scored 12 points for the Blue Hose.

Blue Hose coach Gregg Nibert said Creighton is the best offensive team his program has played against since it began transitioning to Division I in 2006.

''They've got a complete team,'' Nibert said. ''There's no secret why they're 15th.''

Presbyterian hung with the Bluejays for the first nine minutes. The Blue Hose tried to slow the tempo, and the Bluejays turned over the ball three times early.

It was just a matter of time before Creighton took over against an opponent in its first season as a full-fledged Division I member and is picked last in its division in the Big South Conference.

Jahenns Manigat hit a 3-pointer against the Blue Hose's 2-3 zone defense, and Wragge followed with three in a row from behind the arc to start a 33-8 run over the last 11 minutes of the half.

''It felt good when I got that first one to go in and I got a little rhythm,'' Wragge said. ''They were really spread out and concerned with Doug and Greg (Echenique) down low. If teams are going to take away the inside like that, we as shooters have to make sure they pay for it.''

Wragge had four of his six 3-pointers in the first half.

''We tried like heck to pick our poison,'' Nibert said. ''Wragge killed us in that transition when we were going back into the zone. We didn't have an answer. His four 3-pointers crushed us in the first half.''

Creighton turned on its fast break as Presbyterian missed 10 of 11 shots and committed five turnovers during a seven-minute stretch.

''That was big for us,'' Wragge said. ''We knew going in they would play all 30-35 seconds of the shot clock. We knew when we got the ball, and with what little depth they have, we were going to try to run them into the ground.''

The Bluejays, up 43-17 at the break, led by as many as 35 points in the second half.

Creighton shot 62 percent from the field and made a season-high 12 3-pointers on 24 attempts.

''If they're going to keep two guys in front of our post guys, we've got guys with the green light to let it fly,'' Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. ''When you have 4s like Doug and Ethan who are capable of stretching the defense, it puts a lot of pressure on them.''

The game was part of the 12th annual Las Vegas Invitational. The Bluejays play Longwood Tuesday in Omaha before going to Vegas to play Wisconsin on Friday and either Arizona State or Arkansas State on Saturday.

The Blue Hose go to Wisconsin on Tuesday and then play in Vegas against Cornell on Friday and either Florida A&M or Longwood on Saturday.

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