No. 16 Creighton beats Illinois State

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — Creighton forward Ethan Wragge worked all week
on his outside shooting. It showed Wednesday night when the junior
scored a career-high 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point range to
lead the 16th-ranked Bluejays to a 79-72 victory over Illinois State.

The 6-foot-7 Wragge, who normally comes
off the bench, made his first four attempts from behind the 3-point
line. After that, his teammates were kicking the ball out to him nearly
every offensive series, looking for his hot hand.

“I worked pretty hard all week on my
outside shooting,” Wragge said. “They were dropping pretty good in
practice, too. As soon as the first one went in tonight, I just felt it.
They really started falling after that.”

Grant Gibbs added 16 points for
Creighton (13-1, 2-0 Missouri Valley Conference), while the team’s
leading scoring Doug McDermott (third in the nation at 23.5 points per
game) was held to 15 points and nine rebounds.

“It was a fabulous win,” Creighton coach
Greg McDermott said. “There are not many teams in our league that
could’ve come in here tonight and played a tough opponent like (ISU) and
get away with a win. We’ll take it.”

Tyler Brown and Bryant Allen each scored 15 points to lead the Redbirds (9-5, 0-2).

Creighton led by as many as 12 points
in the first half. Illinois State went on a 9-0 run over the last 2
minutes of the half that culminated with a 3-pointer by Nick Zeisloft
with 2 seconds left to pull the Redbirds within 42-39.

It took Creighton until the second half to figure out the Redbirds’ zone defense.

“Finally, we were able to get into the
teeth of their zone. It was something we didn’t recognize, and we had to
make some adjustments. We picked it up eventually,” Greg McDermott
said.

It was a crushing loss for the young Redbirds, who felt they were in the game until the final seconds.

“Disappointed,” first-year Illinois
State coach Dan Muller said. “We really wanted this win tonight. And we
came close. Creighton is a very good team, but we wanted this one.”

The teams combined for 26 3-pointers in
the game, 17 coming in the first half. As both defenses tightened,
Illinois State staged another comeback late in the game, pulling ahead
63-61 on a 3-pointer by Allen with 9:15 left. Creighton regained the
lead at 67-65 with 7:03 left and never relinquished it.

Illinois State’s Jackie Carmichael
recorded his 161st career blocked shot, passing Greg Dilligard for the
most in school history. Carmichael scored 10 points and grabbed six
rebounds.

Creighton’s seven-point margin of victory was its lowest of the season.

Illinois State is 0-8 against nationally ranked opponents in the history of Redbird Arena.