Arizona St.-Creighton Preview
Doug McDermott finally was called upon to resemble the player who is the nation's top returning scorer. He delivered with a spectacular performance.
Creighton (5-0) won 84-74 over Wisconsin on Friday as McDermott had a season-high 30 points. He entered averaging 16.2 points after averaging 22.9 in 2011-12.
"We let Doug go to work,'' said coach Greg McDermott, the forward's father. "He made really good decisions. He took what the defense gave him. His pace was better offensively tonight.''
The Bluejays didn't need much from their star in winning their first four contests by an average of 28.5 points. Against the Badgers, the 6-foot-8 junior forward made 10 of 23 shots, although he was critical of his performance.
"I got off to a slow start. I missed a lot of shots I normally make,'' Doug McDermott said. "I need to get to the post. I thought I did a great job in the post. I felt really comfortable being patient and making reads out of the post."
Creighton, which began 7-0 last season, finished at 46.6 percent from the field after entering play Friday leading the country at 57.0. The Bluejays shot 61.9 percent in their 46-point second half.
"We matched their toughness," Greg McDermott said. "We wanted to make a statement. Anytime you play a Big Ten team, it's a big game. Wisconsin is unbelievably well coached."
Ethan Wragge added 17 points off the bench. Wragge is averaging 15.0 points over his last four games while making 17 of 26 3-pointers in that span.
Arizona State (4-0) is seeking its first 5-0 start since 1985-86. Accomplishing that would give the Sun Devils half of their victory total from all of 2011-12.
Coach Herb Sendek's team looks much improved from that 10-21 club that finished 10th in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils, who are averaging 80.8 points after scoring just 61.0 per game last season, shot a season-high 56.0 percent in cruising to an 83-68 victory over Arkansas on Friday.
Carrick Felix scored 17 of his career-high 24 points in the first half and Jordan Bachynski added 14 and matched a career best with 13 boards. Jonathan Gilling also grabbed 13 rebounds as Arizona State held a 42-32 edge on the glass.
Along with Felix, newcomer Jahii Carson is a perimeter player to watch with his team-high average of 18.8 points. Carson, who was academically ineligible last season, had 19 points Friday.
Creighton knows that Felix and Carson provide a unique challenge.
"Their guards are a handful," Greg McDermott said. "We're definitely facing a totally different team. We'll have to use our bench a little bit earlier. Only half the work is done here.''
The Sun Devils have taken four of six meetings with the Bluejays, although these teams have not met since the 1973-74 season.