No. 20 Creighton beats Butler behind McDermott's 28 points
OMAHA, Neb. (AP)
Devin Brooks was at the top of the key when he spotted Doug McDermott alone under the basket. Brooks looked right, then switched the ball to his left hand and let loose a perfect bounce pass through the lane to the Creighton star.
McDermott banked in an uncontested basket and sprinted to center court, where he and Brooks greeted each other with a jumping shoulder bump.
Just about everything went right Tuesday night for the 20th-ranked Bluejays, who rolled to an 88-60 victory over fellow Big East newcomer Butler for their 10th straight win.
"Bounce-passed it with a curve," a smiling Brooks said of maybe the most electrifying play of the game.
"Great pass," McDermott said, looking over at Brooks at the postgame news conference.
"Great finish," Brooks replied.
The Bluejays (15-2, 5-0), to be sure, are in sync right now. All but one of their wins has been by double digits, and they have beaten their first five Big East opponents by an average of 17 points.
Of course, when you have a two-time first-team All-American leading your team, the offense comes a bit easier. McDermott scored 24 of his 28 points in the first half and broke into the top 25 on the NCAA's career scoring chart with 2,644 points.
The Bluejays scored on 14 straight possessions at one point and closed the first half on a 32-6 run to lead 53-24. Butler (10-7, 0-5) never got closer than 25 points the rest of the way.
"The first half was as good as we can play," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "Our offensive efficiency and ball movement, our guys' willingness to move the ball and play for their teammates. I'm equally proud of our defense. I didn't see this coming. We were exceptional tonight."
Creighton, back in the Top 25 for the first time since late November, blew open the game after Alex Barlow's 3-pointer pulled the Bulldogs within 21-18. Doug McDermott scored 13 points during the Bluejays' decisive spurt, which had the sellout crowd of 17,602 juiced.
"It's a wonderful place to play if you're Creighton," Bulldogs guard Kellen Dunham said. "It's an awful place to play if you're Butler."
Austin Chatman added 10 points for the Bluejays, who took a half-game lead over Villanova for first place in the Big East.
Dunham scored 12 points and Khyle Marshall added 11 for Butler.
The Bulldogs have lost five straight conference games for the first time since 2003-04, when they were in the Horizon League. Three of their first four Big East losses, and four in all this season, had come in overtime. This one, however, was never close after the first few minutes.
"It's the first game I looked out and saw our guys, and we just didn't have it," Butler coach Brandon Miller said. "We didn't have a hop in our step. We were slow to the ball, slow getting back on defense. When you play a basketball team as good as Creighton, they make you pay for it."
The Bulldogs shot 28 percent in the first half after missing 21 of their last 24 shots. They finished at 35 percent and are shooting 34 percent in their last two games.
Kameron Woods, who did a good job keeping Oklahoma State star Marcus Smart under control in a two-point loss in November, was assigned to McDermott. He simply couldn't stop him.
McDermott worked over Woods inside, using creative moves to get to the hoop and showing soft touch with his right and left hands. He stepped out to make a couple of mid-range fade-away jumpers and popped out for 3-pointers.
"I got the ball in some spots where I like it," McDermott said. "The guys did a great job recognizing that."
McDermott, who finished 11 for 19 with three 3s, missed 5 of 7 shots in the second half and didn't play the last 8 minutes.
"We're clicking on all cylinders," he said. "Everything seems to be perfect out there."