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.