Creighton showcased its offensive lethalness Friday on a night when its two-time, first-team All-American spent as much time spectating as playing.
Even with foul trouble limiting Doug McDermott to 20 minutes — three in the second half — the Bluejays rolled Alcorn State 107-61 before a sellout crowd of 17,740 at the CenturyLink Center.
“Doug’s our go-to guy when it comes right down to it but we obviously have a lot of other pieces,” Creighton senior Ethan Wragge said. “When Doug’s getting some bad calls or something like that happens, we have plenty of guys willing to step up and fill the void.”
McDermott still wound up contributing 20 points to Creighton’s record scoring total for an opener. He had 18 in helping the Bluejays break to a 16-point halftime lead but he picked up his third foul less than 2 1/2 minutes into the second half and got tagged with No. 4 on an offensive charge after he had been back in the game for 62 seconds.
No problem as his teammates were more than willing to pick up the slack with him on the bench. Wragge and Devin Brooks each finished with 15 points, Jahenns Manigat had eight of his 13 in the second half and Will Artino added 12 while making 5 of 7 shots from the field.
“We’re all used to playing with each other so the chemistry is going to be good regardless of which five we have out there,” said Manigat, who also chipped in four assists, three rebounds and two steals without making a turnover.
“Doug is the guy we want to get the basketball to but when he’s not in the game, we have to collectively fill in that void. Guys did a good job of that tonight.”
McDermott, who received a standing ovation when honored for setting Creighton’s career scoring record last season as a junior, came out firing, making his first four shots in helping the Bluejays grab a quick 16-7 lead.
Alcorn State hung tough and actually went ahead 23-22 when Twann Oakley made a free throw with 9:32 left in the half. The visitors from the Southwestern Athletic Conference probably should have called time out at that point and snapped some pictures as things deteriorated rapidly for them from that point on.
Creighton hit the Braves with a 16-0 run. The lead stood at 52-36 at halftime.
Creighton held Alcorn State to 10 points on its first 23 possessions of the second half. The Braves committed nine turnovers, missed 9 of 13 shots from the field and found themselves trailing 88-46 with 6:45 to play.
“I thought we were really crisp tonight,” McDermott said. “We were a little sloppy in the exhibition game, and we allowed 36 points in the first half. But I thought in the second half we really played well.”
Creighton finished with 25 assists on its 35 baskets and had just six turnovers. Three Bluejays — Brooks, Austin Chatman and Grant Gibbs — each finished with five assists apiece, while Manigat chipped in his four.
The Bluejays also finished with a 45-26 rebounding edge, shot 55.6 percent from the field and had 12 steals.
“I’m pleased with the win,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “It’s good to get the season started.”
He was particularly pleased with the way his players adjusted defensively as the game wore on.
“I didn’t think we were as engaged defensively to start, and to their credit, they had some guys knock down some shots,” McDermott said. “We didn’t have any film on them from this season and we didn’t have a great idea on their personnel.
“We kind of had to adjust as the game went on. Once we got a feel, we changed a few things defensively. Part of those open shots at the start is on us because we just kind of rolled the dice.”
As key as the defensive adjustments might have been, Creighton simply wore down the Braves with their offensive pace.
“They just couldn’t keep up,” said Brooks, who made 3 of his 4 shots from the field and 9 of 10 free-throw attempts. “They got a little tired and fatigued. We just had too many guys running at them.”
Brooks also grabbed six rebounds to tie Wragge for the team high. In the process, Brooks put his name in with some pretty select company as he joined Doug McDermott as the only Creighton players since 1973 to score at least 15 points and grab at least five rebounds in their first game.
“Devin finds a way to make something good happen,” Doug McDermott said. “He’s just something we haven’t seen here in a while, and it’s really exciting to have a guy like that on the floor because he can make so much happen.”
McDermott had a pretty good seat to watch Brooks and the rest of his teammates make plenty of things happen in the final 20 minutes. Not that he wants to make that a regular occurrence.
“I was just trying to be aggressive out there, and some things didn’t go my way,” he said. “But we still won by 45 or whatever it was. I’m satisfied with it.”
* * *
Video: Fox Sports recap of CU-Alcorn State: