EVANSVILLE, Ind. — No one at the Ford Center on Saturday had a greater appreciation for what Creighton’s Doug McDermott accomplished than did Evansville’s Colt Ryan.
McDermott became the 15th player in Missouri Valley history to score at least 2,000 points when he had 21 in the Bluejays’ 71-68 victory. The junior forward had 1,980 points going into Saturday, and he got hit the milestone with a basket with 4:52 to play.
Ryan became the 14th member of the league’s exclusive scoring club a week ago when he had 33 points in a win over Drake. He scored 13 against Creighton, pushing his career total to 2,061.
“Doug is a great player,” Ryan said. “He scores the ball in a variety of ways. I remember when he was a freshman, and he was mainly in the post. He’s evolved his game so well.
“He gets to the free-throw line a lot now. He has a face-up game and can really stroke the 3-ball. The thing I most admire about him is he shoots such a high percentage. That’s what great players do.”
McDermott made 7 of 12 shots Saturday, and is shooting 55 percent from the field this season and 48 percent from 3-point range.
This is just the third time in league history that two players have joined the 2,000-point club in the same season. Tulsa’s Steve Harris and Wichita State’s Xavier McDaniel did it during the 1984-85 season, while Creighton’s Rodney Buford and Evansville’s Marcus Wilson accomplished the feat in 1998-99.
“Doug and Colt have done a lot of the same things for their programs,” Evansville coach Marty Simmons said. “Starting out, they’re great young men and they’re great role models for young people. They do things the right way.
“They’re great competitors, and they have the ability to do a lot of things offensively. I think their greatest asset is that they make the guys around them better with their knowledge and their unselfishness and their ability to play the game.”
McDermott moved past Chad Gallagher into third place on Creighton’s all-time scoring chart. Gallagher had scored 1,983 points from 1987 to 1991. The only two players left for McDermott to pass are Bob Harstad, who scored 2,110 points from 1987 to 1991, and Buford, who scored a school-record 2,116 points from 1995 to 1999.
That’s heady stuff for a guy who didn’t make the varsity team until his junior year of high school.
“It’s difficult to do what he’s done, and it’s even more difficult to do it in three years,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “As Doug says, it’s a credit to his teammates understanding his strengths and to the different ways he can score the basketball.”
In addition to the thrill he got as a coach in seeing one of his players reach Saturday’s milestone, Greg McDermott feels a father’s pride.
“I’m incredibly proud of the player he’s become and, more importantly, the person he’s developed into,” Greg said. “He’s had to deal with all this success, and there’s no manual for me to hand to Doug to teach him how to handle what he’s had to handle.
“You have to have pretty good character and values, and fortunately his mother instilled those in him at a young age.”
Ryan struggles vs. CU
Ryan had a tough time against the Bluejays. After he made two of his first four shots, the senior guard misfired on 13 of his last 14 shots.
“We were fortunate that Colt missed some shots that he normally makes,” Greg McDermott said.
Ryan finished with 13 points. Ned Cox led the Purple Aces with 18 points, while they got a lift from Adam Wing. Making his first start of the season, Wing finished with 10 points and seven rebounds after entering the game with averages of 2.1 points and 2.1 rebounds.
Wing started in place of Lewis Jones, who did not play because of what Simmons referred to as a coach’s decision.
Wragge goes un-ragged
Drastic times sometimes call for drastic measures.
Ethan Wragge shaved the beard he has grown all season on Friday in an attempt to change his and his team’s fortunes. Creighton had lost its last three games, and Wragge had been battling his shot, making just 3 of 14 3-point attempts over his last four games.
“I thought we needed a little bit of a change-up,” Wragge said, smiling. “The stuff we’ve been doing these last three games wasn’t working, so I just said it was time.”
Wragge scored eight points in Saturday’s win, making 2 of 5 3-point shots. In his previous four games, the junior forward had a total of nine.