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Big day from McDermott paces Creighton past Xavier
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Even with a bad shoulder, Doug McDermott was as good as ever for Creighton.
The two-time first-team All-American scored 35 points despite playing with a sprained left shoulder, and the Bluejays held off Xavier 95-89 Sunday to move into a tie for first place in the Big East.
"It felt a lot better when I woke up this morning, and I thought that was a good sign," McDermott said. "I really didn't even notice it in shoot-around, so I didn't really think about it. I thought I played well enough with it being a little sore."
McDermott's last basket was a 3-pointer that pushed Creighton's lead to 80-70 with 4:05 left. Xavier wasn't done, though, pulling to 89-86 before the Bluejays put away the game at the free-throw line.
The Bluejays (14-2, 4-0) won their ninth straight game and now sit atop the Big East standings with Villanova. The Musketeers (13-4, 3-1) had their eight-game win streak ended.
Creighton, which came in shooting a league-leading 43 percent on 3-pointers, made 14 of 28. Xavier hit 12 of 26 from beyond the arc.
"I don't know if this is what they envisioned when they reformulated the new Big East, and I'm not going to act like I've been coaching for 40 years, but I don't know if I've been involved in that many games that were as exciting from a fan's perspective," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "They present so many problems, and offensively they may be one of the most talented teams I've ever coached or scouted against."
McDermott, who sprained his shoulder Tuesday against DePaul, made 13 of 24 shots, including 4 of 10 3s, and had seven rebounds and three assists. He had 30 or more points for the sixth time this season.
McDermott didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday and went through light workouts Friday and Saturday. Creighton coach Greg McDermott, his dad, said he was worried Doug might get winded. The senior forward ended up playing 33 minutes, second most on the team.
"If he can get (his arm) above his head, he was going to be effective and play," Greg McDermott said. "I didn't think he shied away from contact, he continued to make tight curls and he didn't favor it whatsoever. They threw a lot of different things at him as far as switching and being physical. He was very efficient with what he did."
Ethan Wragge added 15 points on five 3-pointers, including three in a row in transition "a circus show," Mack called it to help the Bluejays add to a four-point halftime lead. Devin Brooks added 14 points, Austin Chatman 12 and Jahenns Manigat 11.
Semaj Christon scored 27 points, Justin Martin had 21 and Matt Stainbrook added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Musketeers.
Xavier trailed by double digits much of the second half but cut it to three, 89-86, when Myles Davis hit a 3-pointer with 29 seconds left. The Musketeers cut an 11-point deficit to three points largely because Creighton missed 4 of 8 free throws over a 1:07 span.
After Davis' basket made it a one-possession game, Chatman and Manigat combined to make six free throws to secure Creighton's 11th straight home win.
"There are no moral victories at Xavier and we compete to win," Mack said. "Not many teams are going to walk into this arena and win."
The Bluejays were without guard Grant Gibbs, who is out at least four weeks after dislocating his right kneecap against DePaul. Gibbs, who had started all 86 of his games at Creighton, watched from behind the Bluejays' bench in street clothes with a thigh-to-ankle brace on his right leg.
Avery Dingman got his first start in 87 career games and had four points, four assists and four rebounds.
The Musketeers looked ready to blow out the Bluejays early, jumping out to a 12-0 lead on three 3-pointers by Martin and another by Dee Davis.
"They got off to a really hot start, and that hasn't happened against us in a while," Doug McDermott said. "We have enough mature guys on our team. When stuff happens like that, you have to bounce back. It was only a couple minutes into the game. We regrouped, got back to doing what we did, got big stops and after that it was history."