McDermott's 31 leads No. 12 Creighton in win
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Doug McDermott didn't make 14 shots in a row or outscore the opposing team by himself in the second half as he did four nights earlier.
Creighton's national player-of-the-year candidate did, however, turn in another virtuoso performance after halftime Tuesday night.
McDermott overcame a slow start to score 21 of his 31 points in the second half and help the 12th-ranked Bluejays pull away for a 79-68 victory over Northern Iowa.
"I stayed patient and stayed calm," he said. "Like my teammates have done all year, they found me in the right spot. They make me look a lot better than I am. It's a lot of fun to play with these guys."
The Bluejays (17-1, 6-0 Missouri Valley Conference) won their 11th straight game and are off to their best start in program history.
McDermott had his second straight 30-point game and fifth of the season.
The 6-foot-8 junior forward was never better than he was Friday, when he scored a season-best 39 points in a jaw-dropping performance at Missouri State. After missing three of his first four shots, he made 14 in a row and outscored Missouri State 28-25 in the second half.
Against the Panthers, it looked as if McDermott wanted to pick up where he left off. McDermott made a jump shot from the wing to open the game and kept on shooting. But he missed four straight and ended the half 4 for 10.
"Just the shots that normally go in weren't falling. Sometimes that happens," he said. "So you have to continue to stay with the game and not let that affect the way I play on the other end of the floor."
McDermott got better defensively as the game went on after Jake Koch took it to him the first half. McDermott also rediscovered his shooting touch, making 8 of 12 from the field and all five of his free throws in the second half.
"I don't know that you're going to stop him," UNI coach Ben Jacobson said. "We made a couple mistakes and gave him a couple easy ones. If he gets easy baskets, he's going to get 30 like he did tonight. He had to take 22 shots to get 30. That's not bad, with the way he's played all year. He's hard to slow down."
Anthony James scored a season-high 25 points and Koch added 19 to lead Northern Iowa (9-9, 2-4).
James slithered through the lane at will and hit mid-range jumpers while making a career-high 11 field goals on a season-high 20 attempts. The 6-9, 255-pound Koch, who outweighs McDermott by 30 pounds, scored most of his points on strong moves to the hoop against the Creighton star.
Creighton's defensive priority was to deny the ball to Marc Sonnen, who made seven 3-pointers and matched his career high with 21 points in the Panthers' 31-point win over Bradley on Saturday. The Panthers tied a school record with 15 3-pointers against Bradley but made only 4 of 15 against the Bluejays.
Sonnen didn't score until the middle of the second half and finished with five points.
"Anybody that watched that Bradley game or knows anything about basketball knows that you don't let Sonnen shoot it," Bluejays coach Greg McDermott said. "We wanted to be there on the catch and not give him anything in rhythm. When you do that, you open up other things."
Austin Chatman, who finished with 12 points, made two straight 3s to get the Bluejays going in the first half. Grant Gibbs, who had 11 points and seven assists, hit a shot from beyond the arc and then muscled his way into the lane for another basket to give the Bluejays the lead for good late in the first half.
Creighton made 11 of its last 16 shots of the half and erased a seven-point deficit to lead 37-32 at the break. Doug McDermott scored six straight points to extend the Bluejays' lead to double digits with 14 minutes left.
McDermott moved into fifth place on Creighton's career scoring chart with 1,814 points. He passed Kyle Korver, who had 1,801 points from 1999-2003 and is in his ninth NBA season.
"It's pretty cool," McDermott said. "It's surreal, to be honest. I'm already a junior and it feels like it's gone by so fast. Pretty cool accomplishment."