The most startling development Tuesday night in Creighton's dismantling of Drake wasn't the 16 3-pointers the Bluejays made or their 28 assists.
It was that Ethan Wragge actually took two shots inside the 3-point line. He made both, along with six from beyond it, in matching his career high with 22 points in the 91-61 romp over the Bulldogs in front of a sellout crowd of 18,073 at the CenturyLink Center.
“He even took a dribble on one of them,” teammate Alex Olsen said.
Said guard Grant Gibbs: “That just seemed weird.”
To put it in perspective, Wragge had made 211 baskets in 94 games for Creighton, and 189 of them were 3-pointers. He had made at least two 2-point field goals in three other games, with his high being three against San Diego State last season.
Wragge chuckled when asked if there was anything apocalyptic about his making two layups in the same game.
“Doug (McDermott) gave me both of them, and he did a really good job of finding the points in their zone where they weren't,” he said. “He gave me layups. That was nice of him.”
McDermott, who backed up Wragge's big night with 16 points, lasered a pair of pinpoint passes to his 6-foot-7 teammate. McDermott finished with three assists to go along with a game-high seven rebounds as the Bluejays improved to 15-1 overall and 4-0 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
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Jahenns Manigat added 13 points and Gibbs 10 for Creighton, which could have kicked it into cruise control after a Wragge 3-pointer made it 42-12 with 6:07 left in the first half.
To their credit, the Bluejays kept the heat on to finish with their second-highest scoring total of the season. Creighton established season highs in 3-pointers and assists. Its 64.2 percent field-goal shooting was just off the 64.8 percent it shot in putting up 105 points on Longwood in mid-November.
“Our coaching staff stresses that we shouldn't look at the score and to keep doing what we're doing, especially defensively,” Manigat said. “We got away from that a bit when the score got out of hand, and that's something we have to get better at.
“But we obviously did a good job at the start of getting them out of rhythm, and we have to continue doing that as the game carries on.”
Drake entered the game struggling, and the Bulldogs did little right at the start to pull themselves out of their funk. They missed 22 of their first 29 shots — several of which were badly off target — and shot 28.1 percent in the first half.
They heated up a bit after halftime but still wound up shooting 35.6 percent from the field. Creighton also had a 40-22 rebounding edge.
“We ran into a buzzsaw of a basketball team tonight,” Drake coach Mark Phelps said. “They've been playing well, and they played very well tonight. Give them a lot of credit.
“The start really put us on our heels, and we could not recover from that. They were hitting 3s at a great pace, and combine that with some poor shooting on our end and some questionable shot selection and you get an outcome like we had tonight.”
Drake dropped to 0-4 in the league and 6-9 overall. Freshman Joey King led the Bulldogs with 17 points, making 5 of 9 3-pointers. His teammates combined to go 4 of 19 from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, Wragge buried 6 of his 9 3-pointers, while Manigat made three and McDermott and Gibbs two apiece.
Seven of Creighton's 3-pointers came in the first 11:13 as the Bluejays scored 39 points on their first 19 possessions.
“That's difficult to do,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “We shot the daylights out of the ball, our ball movement was outstanding and we scored in a lot of different ways.
“At the same time, I thought our defense the first 15 minutes of the game was on point. Our communication was good, our effort was good and our energy was good. We took a team that was struggling some and we threw the first punch.”
It was a knockout, and it allowed McDermott the luxury of using his entire roster, something he hasn't been able to do since the start of league play. He's had to pare down the rotation since early December, when a heart issue forced Josh Jones to give up the game.
No starter played more than 28 minutes against the Bulldogs, and 12 of the 15 Bluejays scored, 12 got at least one rebound and 10 registered an assist.
“We wanted to jump on them right away and not give them any reason to stick around,” Wragge said. “I thought our starting five did a real good job of going out there and throwing the first punch.”
And the backups never quit swinging away.
“It kind of came from everyone, and that's what you like to see,” Manigat said. “Teams are always trying to take away our options, but we showed we can go deep into our bench and still produce. It was nice to see something like this tonight.”
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