OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Doug McDermott didn’t steal the show the way he did the last time Creighton played Missouri State.
As usual, though, he did play the leading role.
McDermott scored 29 points and made five of his team’s 15 3-pointers in the No. 21 Bluejays’ 91-77 victory over the Bears on Wednesday night.
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The performance was still a far cry from his national attention-grabbing outing in Springfield, Mo., on Jan. 11, when he personally outscored Missouri State 28-25 in the second half and made 14 shots in a row on his way to a season-best 39 points.
McDermott had 10 rebounds, like he did the last time the teams met, but he made it a point to get his teammates involved and he matched his season high with four assists.
“At their place they didn’t double-team me as much,” McDermott said. “Tonight they brought a guy usually every time I touched the ball in the post. I knew I’d be able to find guys out of that, and I thought I was a lot more patient.”
Ethan Wragge made 5 of 6 3s for his 15 points, Austin Chatman had 14 points and 10 assists for his first double-double, and Grant Gibbs had 10 points for the Bluejays.
Creighton (19-3, 8-2) moved into a tie for first place with Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Bluejays lost to the Shockers on the road Jan. 19 but get them at home in the final regular-season game March 2.
“It feels great to be back (in first), but we can’t get complacent like we did earlier this year,” McDermott said. “Tonight I just wanted to beat Missouri State because I hadn’t beaten them at home yet in my career, so it felt good to get that off my back.”
The Bluejays were playing at home for the first time in 15 days. In the interim, they played three straight on the road.
“It was great to be back home,” coach Greg McDermott said. “The crowd was great once again and really energized us. I know the guys at practice yesterday were almost giddy to be back in here just because it’s been so long.”
The Bluejays turned in their second straight sharp performance after back-to-back road losses to Wichita State and Drake.
They shot 63 percent in a 30-point win at Southern Illinois on Sunday, and they connected on 56 percent against Missouri State in one of their strongest overall games. Creighton had assists on 24 of its 30 field goals and committed just 10 turnovers.
The nation’s top 3-point shooting team made 15 from long range on a season-high 28 attempts.
“They expose you in so many areas,” Missouri State coach Paul Lusk said. “McDermott is great. Not good, not good — great, great college player. And Creighton, as a team, if you make any mistakes, they make you pay. The game was too fast for us and they’re very difficult for us to match up with.”
Gavin Thurman scored 21 points to lead the Bears (6-16, 4-6), who dropped to 1-10 on the road.
Dorrian Williams had all 14 of his points in the second half and Marcus Marshall and Christian Kirk added 10 apiece for Missouri State.
McDermott got better as the game progressed. He scored 18 points and made 3 of 4 3s in the second half.
As good as he was, Greg McDermott, Doug’s dad and coach, said he doesn’t think his son could top the amazing display he put on in Springfield three weeks ago.
Greg McDermott said he liked how he found open teammates when double-teams came in the post.
“He’s worked on that part of his game because he was anticipating double teams,” the coach said. “Coming into the season he spent some time on that, and that worked paid off tonight.”
The Bluejays posted their first regular-season sweep of Missouri State since 2008-09 and won their 72nd straight home game against an opponent that was .500 or worse.
Creighton made nine 3-pointers on its way to a 45-32 lead at the break. Wragge hit two of them and Chatman and McDermott one apiece during a 14-4 spurt that put Creighton up by double digits.
Missouri State twice missed on chances to make it a two-possession game. Bruce Marshall made two free throws after Gregory Echenique was called for a flagrant-1 foul for elbowing him under the basket. The Bears kept possession, but Marcus Marshall committed an offensive foul and the Bears got no closer than eight points.
McDermott put back his own miss, and after a Missouri State miss, Avery Dingman drilled a 3-pointer just ahead of the halftime buzzer to make it a 13-point game.
“Those are breakdowns, those are self-inflicted,” Lusk said. “It’s not that our guys aren’t trying. It’s just that (Creighton) is very, very good.”