OMAHA, Neb. — Doug McDermott scored a hard-earned 19 points, Jahenns Manigat had a season-high 16, and Creighton posted a 67-49 victory over Marquette on Tuesday night in the Bluejays’ first-ever Big East game.
Ethan Wragge added 12 points on four 3-pointers for Creighton (11-2), which has won six games in a row.
Jamil Wilson and Chris Otule scored 10 points apiece for Marquette (8-6), the defending Big East co-champion and preseason favorite. The Golden Eagles shot just 38.5 percent. Their six losses have come to teams with a 64-8 combined record.
Manigat had a season-high six assists and six rebounds, but it was his timely scoring that allowed Creighton to turn back Marquette when the Eagles looked as if they would threaten.
The CenturyLink Center crowd of 18,525 showed up ready to party on a New Year’s Eve that marked the Bluejays’ inaugural Big East game. The towel-waving fans roared after Creighton’s early baskets and loudly chanted "de-fense" on Marquette’s first couple of possessions.
The Bluejays swept the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and tournament titles last season and, along with Xavier and Butler, joined the reconstituted Big East last March.
The much-anticipated Big East opener matched teams that had a long history of playing from the 1920s to 1980s. This was their 77th meeting, but before Tuesday they hadn’t met since the 1998 NIT.
The Bluejays wore their alternate gray uniforms for the second time this season. Marquette coach Buzz Williams even got caught up in the occasion, donning a bow tie.
For the fifth-straight home game, Creighton never trailed. Marquette got no closer than nine points in the second half. Devin Brooks snaked to the basket for three-straight layups and Manigat made a 3-pointer from the corner for a 9-0 run that stretched the Bluejays’ lead to 49-30. Marquette answered with a 9-0 spurt of its own before Manigat and Wragge sank deep 3s to push it out to 55-39 with 7 1/2 minutes left.
Marquette was just 2 of 12 on 3-pointers and Creighton was 13 of 35.
McDermott scored 10 of Creighton’s 15 points in the first seven minutes, but he became frustrated as Wilson turned up the defensive pressure on him. As Wilson bodied him in the post, McDermott glared at officials. He missed a layup and committed three turnovers while going scoreless the rest of the half. As he walked to the locker room, he turned to an official out of earshot, mouthed an expletive and said, "Come on, man."
Even with McDermott struggling, the Bluejays led 37-24 at the break thanks largely to Manigat. After Marquette had cut a 12-point deficit to six, Austin Chatman and Manigat hit back-to-back 3s to restore the double-digit lead. Manigat later riled the crowd with a steal and dunk, and he made another 3-pointer to give the Bluejays their largest lead of the half.