Doug McDermott did his usual thing on the offensive end, and his teammates took care of California’s two best players on defense.
McDermott had a season-high 34 points and nine rebounds with more than a dozen NBA scouts watching, and No. 16 Creighton ran its winning streak to four games with a hard-fought 74-64 victory against Cal on Saturday night.
Gregory Echenique added 10 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots, while Jahenns Manigat added 11 points, six assists and picked up the defensive load on Cal star Allen Crabbe for the Bluejays (10-1).
McDermott, averaging 22.7 points coming in, posted his seventh consecutive game with 20 or more points and became the first Creighton player with consecutive 30-point games since Bob Harstad in 1990. It was McDermott’s third 30-point effort this season.
He is seeing every kind of different defensive look.
”I’m kind of used to that by now. Teams have shown a lot of different stuff,” McDermott said. ”We just found other ways to score.”
McDermott scored 18 of his points in the first half and shot 6 for 8 from the floor with a pair of 3-pointers and offered quite a show for all the scouts in the building — primarily in attendance to see him.
In a matchup featuring the nation’s top two scoring juniors, McDermott outshined Crabbe, the Pac-12 scoring leader who was held to 14 points after coming in with a 21.9 average.
”I just missed shots,” Crabbe said. ”I guess I sped up a little bit and that caused me to miss shots. I apologized to my team after the game. … It was just one of those nights. I was here early putting up shots.”
Cal guard Justin Cobbs scored a late layin and crashed into the support and was down briefly, then came out holding his head and was set to go through a series of tests. Cobbs finished with 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds, while David Kravish grabbed 13 rebounds as the Golden Bears held a 53-38 advantage on the boards.
Crabbe missed his first 12 shots from the floor and grew increasingly frustrated after an offensive foul early in the second half before hitting an eight-footer at the 16:53 mark for his first field goal. He missed again the next time down.
After Crabbe’s basket with 11:49 remaining pulled Cal within 46-43, McDermott hit the first of three straight 3s by the Bluejays as they pulled away.
”This is a great win for our program,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. ”Our guys competed tonight, defensively especially. Our goal coming in was to hold Cobbs and Crabbe under 50 percent shooting. I was really proud of our defense. Offensively, Doug had another special performance. He’s scoring in a lot of ways.”
Cal (6-3) lost its third in a row following a 6-0 start and second straight against a ranked opponent at Haas Pavilion. The Bears were beaten 76-75 on a buzzer-beater against No. 21 UNLV last Sunday. They have three remaining nonconference games before the start of Pac-12 play at UCLA on Jan. 3.
Crabbe and Cobbs shot a combined 14 for 43.
Creighton showed few signs of being travel weary out West, going 25 for 61 from the floor and building off a 77-61 victory at home against Akron last Sunday in which McDermott scored 30 points and had a career-high six 3-pointers.
”He’s pretty consistent,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. ”He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He doesn’t miss a lot of shots. It was a hard matchup, and we knew it was going to be a hard matchup.”
The Bluejays’ lone loss was an 83-70 defeat to Boise State on Nov. 28.
Creighton played again without reserve guard Josh Jones, who is scheduled for a procedure Tuesday to restore a normal heart rhythm after he passed out before a Dec. 6 game at Nebraska.
Cal missed its initial nine shots before Robert Thurman’s layup at the 16:16 mark and began the game 2 for 15. Each team was 0 for 4 from long range in the opening 8½ minutes.
Crabbe was 0 for 9 in the first half and 6 for 26 overall — including 0 for 8 from long range — while facing constant pressure and a hand in his face. He missed a breakaway layup going to his left with 18 seconds remaining in the first half as Cal trailed 34-29 at the break.
”It’s shots I usually make, that’s the frustrating part,” Crabbe said. ”I thought I was going to get in a rhythm at some point in the game. I just didn’t — 6 for 26 is a horrible percentage.”
A moment of silence was held before the national anthem for the victims of Friday’s deadly attack at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.
The game attracted more than a dozen NBA scouts, with 15 NBA personnel credentialed in all. General managers Bob Myers of the Golden State Warriors, Dell Demps from the New Orleans Hornets and Oklahoma City Thunder’s Sam Presti attended.
Cal won the previous two meetings between the schools, but they hadn’t played since the 1987-88 season. McDermott lost at Cal in December 2009 while coaching Iowa State.
The Bluejays improved to 4-11 all time in road games against current members of the Pac-12 Conference.