His team down by 10 points, Creighton coach Greg McDermott had a simple message for Josh Jones before the reserve guard entered the game early in the second half.
”Coach Mac just came to me and told me he needed me,” Jones said.
Jones delivered, scoring all 18 of his points in the second half to compensate for Doug McDermott’s quiet night in No. 15 Creighton’s 77-60 victory over UAB on Wednesday.
Jones matched his career high with four 3-pointers. The senior made two during a personal 10-0 run that tied it 45 and two more during a 17-0 spurt that finished off the Blazers (1-1).
”He loves the game, he loves Omaha, he loves Creighton and he’ll do anything to help us win games,” Greg McDermott said. ”It’s kind of cool to see it all come together on a night like tonight when we really needed it.”
Doug McDermott, the returning first-team All-American, got into early foul trouble and finished with five points. He came in having scored in double figures in 37 straight games.
”We didn’t start panicking,” Jones said. ”They took away Doug. We did what else we practiced. Other guys stepped up.”
Gregory Echenique and Grant Gibbs added 13 points apiece, and Ethan Wragge had 12 – hitting four 3-pointers – for the Bluejays (2-0). Echenique matched his career high with 16 rebounds.
”It just proves we’re more than a one-man show,” Greg McDermott said.
The Blazers, who returned three starters from a team that was 15-16 last season, carried the play in the first half and led 37-33 at the break.
Isiah Jones scored 16 points, and Jordan Swing and Rod Rucker added 12 for UAB.
Jones, who was scoreless in 13 minutes of a 71-51 win over North Texas in Creighton’s opener last Friday, got hot after UAB took a 45-35 lead early in the second half.
”It was very clear that we were kind of stuck and needed a push,” Echenique said. ”We needed that kind of play or player to get us momentum, that energy, and he certainly did. He stepped up like he should. He got us going. Those 3-pointers are big and got the crowd into it. We’re here and this is our home and we’re going to protect it.”
Creighton has won 40 straight regular-season November home games since 1989.
Jones made a layup and two free throws before spotting up in the left corner for back-to-back 3s to tie it.
The teams traded baskets before the Bluejays held UAB scoreless for almost 6 minutes during the decisive 17-0 run.
”My role on the team is to bring that spark off the bench,” Jones said. ”Tonight was a prime example of my job. I just did my job.”
Doug McDermott picked up his first and second fouls a minute apart and went to the bench 7 minutes into the game, not to return until the second half.
McDermott, who had 21 points against North Texas, finished 2 of 6 from the field.
”I’d be pleased with that stat line, for sure, and I’d think that would give us a much greater advantage,” first-year UAB coach Jerod Haase said.
With McDermott on the bench most of the first half, the Blazers held their own in the paint against a Creighton team that had a superior frontcourt.
Swing hit a jumper from the wing to finish a 9-0 run that put the Blazers up 23-15. The lead grew to double digits after half when Swing and Terence Jones made back-to-back 3-pointers.
”The bottom line is that Creighton is a really good team,” Haase said. ”We can take away some things, but at the end of the day there’s a reason they’re the (15th) team in the country.”