SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — By now, nothing that Doug McDermott does on a basketball court should amaze anyone.
And then the Creighton forward does something like he did Friday night against Missouri State to leave everyone in the crowd of 7,895 at JQH Arena amazed.
McDermott scored 39 points, including Creighton's first 18 of the second half, to turn a close game into a 74-52 rout. At one point, he made 14 straight shots from the field, several of which were of the head-shaking variety.
“He was making fadeaway 3s off one foot,” Missouri State guard Anthony Downing said. “You can't do anything about that. That's just God-given talent.”
McDermott scored 28 points in the second half in making 10 of 11 shots. His miss came on his final attempt of the night with just more than four minutes to play.
The 39 points were five shy of the career-high 44 he put up against Bradley last season, but Friday's performance might have been more impressive.
“Bradley was an up-and-down game,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “He just scored 39 in a 56-possession game. That's the difference. His efficiency was just off the charts tonight.
“We were never really able to get the transition baskets that are so important to us because Missouri State did such a good job of taking those away. The fact that he did in so many fewer possessions than we usually play is pretty impressive.”
McDermott made his final four shots in a hard-fought first half that saw Creighton emerge with a 32-27 lead. His final basket of the first 20 minutes was part of a 9-2 run that helped put his team in front.
McDermott opened the second half with a layup on Creighton's second possession. On its third, he made a fallaway jumper from the baseline. He followed that with a three-point play, then connected on a 3-pointer from out front.
He put his team ahead 45-32 with another three-point play on the next possession, made a jumper over Missouri State's Nathan Scheer and then closed the 18-point flurry with another 3-pointer in which he fell away from Scheer.
In the span of nine possessions, McDermott made seven shots in stretching the five-point halftime lead to 50-32 with 12:53 remaining.
“I felt like a spectator out there,” Creighton guard Jahenns Manigat said. “I'd come over center court, pick a spot and then stood there and watched Doug do what Doug does.
“I've seen him do that a couple of times before. When he gets in a zone like that, you just give him the ball and get out of his way. He really set the tone there at the start of the second half.”
Ethan Wragge became the first Bluejay other than McDermott to score in the second half when he made three free throws with 11:33 play. Manigat's field goal made it 55-36, and then McDermott went back to work, scoring 10 of the Bluejays' next 12 points.
He had scored 28 of Creighton's first 35 points of the second half by the time he missed a shot.
“Everything was going in, my teammates kind of saw that and they just kept giving me the ball,” McDermott said. “I play with a bunch of unselfish guys and I was just hitting some shots that were tough.
“That might have been one of the better games that I've ever played in my life. It feels good, but it feels even better to get the win.”
The victory was No. 13 Creighton's 10th straight and improved the Bluejays to 16-1 and 5-0 in the Missouri Valley Conference. Missouri State dropped to 5-12 and 3-2 after McDermott singlehandedly burst the Bears' bid for an upset.
Afterward, someone asked Bears coach Paul Lusk how many guys he tried to run at McDermott in an attempt to slow him down.
“We could have run the entire arena at him and it wouldn't have mattered,” Lusk said. “We had no answers for him tonight, but we're not the only team that doesn't. He put on quite a show.”
McDermott needed to in order to give his team a chance to shake a Missouri State team that struggled in nonconference play but had opened Valley play 3-1, with the loss coming in overtime.
The Bluejays found it difficult in the first 20 minutes to get open looks against the Bears' defense. Missouri State used a 9-0 run midway through the half to take an 18-14 lead, and the Bears were still ahead 25-23 after Gavin Thurman's 3-pointer with 3:53 left in the half.
Creighton closed the half with a 9-2 run, getting 3-pointers from Nevin Johnson and Manigat and a field goal and free throw from McDermott, to take its five-point lead at the break.
“It was huge that we were able to get some stops on the defensive end and go on that little run,” Greg McDermott said. “I'm not sure we had the momentum at halftime, but I don't think they had it. I didn't want them going into halftime feeling really good about themselves and the crowd is into the game.
“There's no question the last two or three minutes of the first half and the first two or three minutes of the second half was where the game changed. That was the first time we were able to get any separation.”
The coach in McDermott generally downplays the things his son does on the court, but the father in him was extremely proud of Doug's effort against the Bears.
“That was pretty incredible tonight,” Greg McDermott said. “I told the referees that it was very similar to how it was when I used to play.”
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