One of Creighton's objectives coming into Saturday's game against Evansville was to make sure it won the rebounding battle.
The Bluejays accomplished that mission as they finished with a 16-rebound advantage that helped them post an 87-70 victory in the Missouri Valley opener at the CenturyLink Center.
“They don't have as much size as we do, so we knew coming in that crashing the boards offensively and defensively was going to be a key,” Creighton forward Doug McDermott said. “I thought Greg (Echinique) did a really good job, and I tried to put in more of an effort than I have this year.
“It felt great to dominate the paint with Greg tonight.”
Echinique grabbed 13 of Creighton's 43 rebounds, while McDermott had 10 and Avery Dingman a career-high seven. Twelve of their rebounds came on the offensive end, which helped Creighton finish with a 16-11 edge in second-chance points.
Echenique had six offensive rebounds, which resulted in seven of the 13 points he scored. McDermott pulled down four offensive rebounds, including one that led to a basket, igniting a decisive 11-2 run.
“I was trying to be smart and chased the ball,” Echenique said, “and it worked out for me.”
Triple-double for Ace
Evansville guard Troy Taylor became just the second opponent to record a triple-double against Creighton as he finished with 10 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds.
The 6-foot senior also became just the second Evansville player to notch the statistical gem and the 36th player in Valley history to do it . The only other triple-double by a Valley player since 1999 came in 2011 when Jake Odum of Indiana State accomplished the feat.
“That's pretty incredible for a point guard to do that,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “That's a heck of a performance by Troy.”
In spite of his size, Taylor has been one of Evansville's top rebounders over the past three seasons. He came into the game leading the Purple Aces with a 6.4 average on the boards.
“He's been the kind of a player for us that just plays so hard,” Evansville coach Marty Simmons said. “He's pretty much done what we've asked him to do for four years.
“The way he rebounds the ball from his position is extraordinary, I guess, but he's just a guy with a big heart that plays really hard.”
Dingman steps up his game
In addition to recording a career-high rebounding total, Dingman scored 11 points in 20 minutes of action. The 6-6 sophomore made 3 of 4 shots from 3-point range, and is 8 of 10 from beyond the arc in his last two games.
Dingman has had to step up since Josh Jones' heart episode on Dec. 6 that led to the end of his basketball career.
“Avery has worked hard since he's been here,” Greg McDermott said. “He's embraced the role that we've asked him to play but understood that role could change in a blink of an eye. That's obviously what has happened to him. He's a great example for some of the other younger players that we have on our team.
“When an opportunity presents itself, you had better have done something to prepare yourself for it. To Avery's credit, he's been in the gym making a couple of hundred extra 3s a day. It's paying off, and we'd be in big trouble in Josh's absence if he wasn't playing the way he's playing.”
Bits and pieces
» Doug McDermott passed Paul Silas and Rick Apke to move into seventh place on Creighton's career scoring chart. Thirteen games into his junior season, McDermott has 1,688 points. Nate Funk is sixth on the scoring chart with 1,754 points.
» McDermott moved into 42nd place on the Valley's scoring chart, while Evansville Colt Ryan's 25-point effort moved him into 34th place with 1,756 points.
» Creighton improved to 16-2 in Omaha against Evansville. The Purple Aces haven't won here since 1999.
» Creighton capped off its third unbeaten December since 1946-47 (also 2003 and 2008), and didn't trail in the second half of any of its six wins this month.
» Florida's Nick Calathes is the only other Bluejay opponent to record a triple-double. He did in the 2008 National Invitation Tournament.
» McDermott and Echenique became the first Bluejays to record double-doubles in the same game since McDermott and Kenny Lawson did it against Drake on Jan. 1, 2011.
— Steven Pivovar