Creighton coach Greg McDermott said guard Josh Jones is in good spirits after being released from an Omaha hospital Wednesday.
Jones underwent a surgical procedure Tuesday in which doctors attempted to fix the problem that caused Jones' heart rate to accelerate rapidly before a Dec. 6 game at Nebraska. Jones blacked out momentarily and has not played since.
“The procedure yesterday that was supposed to be three hours turned out to be a little more complex than they anticipated,” McDermott said after his team's 71-54 win against Tulsa. “It actually was about nine hours. As a result, they kept him in the hospital last night.”
McDermott said the senior guard out of Omaha Central was released about noon but has a follow-up examination Thursday.
“He's going to undergo some sort of a scan,” McDermott said. “They want to make sure his heart is responding the way that they want it to. My guess is that we'll learn more in the next few days about exactly what they found.
“His attitude was great in the hospital this morning. He was Josh. He talked a mile a minute and gave me a lesson on the anatomy of the heart and how everything works.”
He also dropped a bombshell on McDermott during his visit.
“He said he was going to cut his hair,” McDermott said. “I said, 'What?' I've been trying to get him to cut that for 2½ years, and now that you're not playing, you're going to cut it?
“I told him he was absolutely not going to cut his hair. We'll see what I find when I see him in the next couple of days.”
Next up for Jays: Valley season
Creighton's next game will be Dec. 29 when the Bluejays open Missouri Valley Conference play with a home game against Evansville. Creighton then faces an early-season showdown of Missouri Valley championship contenders when it plays at Illinois State on Jan. 2.
The Bluejays plan to practice Thursday and Friday before taking a short break for Christmas. They will return for a practice Christmas night.
McDermott and the players hope to avoid the slip they suffered at the start of conference play a year ago. After going 10-1 in pre-conference games, the Bluejays were upset at home by Missouri State in their Valley opener.
“Getting this win was big,” CU guard Avery Dingman said. “We couldn't afford to lose this one. We started off slow, but we got the job done.
“We're looking to get better in practice these next two days. We can work on ourselves, and then we can start getting ready for Evansville when we get back.”
Manning not buying youth as an excuse
Tulsa started three freshmen in Wednesday's game, and two other first-year players played extensively against Creighton.
McDermott said the Bluejays were able to take advantage of their edge in experience. Tulsa coach Danny Manning agreed, but said that his team can't accept its youth as an excuse.
“Our expectations don't change,” he said. “Our goal is to win every game. We have to go out, work hard and compete. We didn't do that enough tonight. That's it, point blank.
“We have to execute, regardless of the situation or where we're playing. Youth is no excuse. This is the team that we have. It is what it is, and it's not going to change. We have to get better and continue to build.”
Tulsa contains McDermott
Creighton forward Doug McDermott finished with 16 points, but the Golden Hurricane made the junior forward work hard for his points.
McDermott, coming off 30- and 34-point performances in his previous two games, had just four points at halftime after missing 5 of his first 6 shots. He made all three of his field-goal attempts in the second half, and went 7 of 8 from the free-throw line.
“You can take him away, but they have other players that are able to score the ball,” Manning said. “The big fellow (Gregory Echenique) had 12 points at halftime and only missed one shot. McDermott is not a selfish player.
“I've watched him play throughout his high school career. He's going to take on a double-team and get someone else a shot. He's going to get the ball moving and get Avery a shot. He's a talented player, and one of the best scorers, if not the best scorer, in the country.”
Bits and pieces
» Creighton has started 11-1 or better for the sixth time in program history, and the first time since 2003-04.
» Greg McDermott improved to 6-0 in his career against Conference USA schools, including 2-0 against Tulsa.
» Doug McDermott's 16 points moved him into ninth place on Creighton's career scoring chart. He has 1,659 points and passed Vernon Moore (1,654). Paul Silas stands in eighth with 1,661 points.
» McDermott also moved into 48th place on the Valley's all-time scoring list.
» Grant Gibbs had two early turnovers Wednesday after committing just two in his previous four games. The senior guard did not have another against the Golden Hurricane and finished with six assists.
» Creighton recorded a season-high 17 steals, one shy of the school record.
— Steven Pivovar