Doug McDermott etched his name in Creighton's record book again Sunday when he claimed the mark for consecutive free throws made.
The senior forward entered the game against Chicago State having made 31 straight, five off Booker Woodfox's school record of 36 in a row. McDermott made four free throws in the first half, then he stepped to the line with 11:55 remaining.
Two swishes later, the record was his. He made two more a minute and a half later to push his streak to 39 straight and cap a 24-point performance in the 90-58 win.
“It takes a lot of focus and a lot of work,” McDermott said. “I think it's part of the game that kids don't spend enough time on because they're worried about their ball-handling or their shooting.
“But I think free throws and getting to the line is a real important part of the game.”
So does his father.
“It's hard to make 37 free throws in a row in the gym by yourself, let alone in game situations,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “It's obviously something he should be very proud of, and he's worked on his free-throw shooting over the course of his career.
“He was a 70-percent free-throw shooter in high school, and he has continued to get better every year in college because he works at them. He does the exact same thing every time he shoots one, and that takes some discipline and some practice.”
Doug McDermott has made 75 of 83 free throws (90.4 percent) this season. He came into his senior year having made 81.7 percent in his first three seasons.
In typical style, Doug tried to deflect some of the praise about his latest record by noting how teammate Jahenns Manigat has made 22 in a row, a streak that started last Feb. 9.
“J's coming after me,” Doug said.
Manigat laughed when asked about that.
“I've been working on my streak for about four years,” he said. “I don't know if I'm going to be able to catch him.”
Doug also notches 2,500
McDermott needed 11 points to become the 64th player in NCAA history to score 2,500 in his career. He got them in less than five minutes, and was on pace to score 116 points by having 16 in the game's first 5½ minutes.
McDermott made his first five shots, including four 3-pointers, but then went 1 for 8 the rest of the way.
“I had a great start, hitting some shots that got me into rhythm,” McDermott said. “I had it going but Chicago State made a couple of changes. They put a guard on me and were being real physical but that just opened up things for my teammates.”
Chicago State coach Tracy Dildy opened the game having 6-foot-8 Matt Ross guarding McDermott.
“We made a switch early and put a smaller guy on him,” Dildy said. “I'm not going to say that caused him any problems because he just found other people. You can't guard him.
“You just have try to keep fresh bodies on him. Doug is just so crafty. He's inside-out, and he posts as hard as any post player we've played against all year.”
Coach offers high praise
Dildy didn't reserve his praise for McDermott alone.
“That team reminds me of one of those Butler teams that made it to the (national) championship game,” said Dildy, in his fourth season as Chicago State's coach after a long career as an assistant that included stops at Mississippi, Auburn and DePaul. “That's a high IQ team that's well-coached.
“They have everything you need. They have leadership, they have toughness, they have shooting ability, they have ball-handling. It's going to be tough for teams to beat that team. They're my pick to win the conference.”
Hanson gives Jays a boost
The Bluejays got a nice lift from 6-9 freshman center Zach Hanson, who scored seven straight points in the second half and finished with nine to match his career high.
He made all four of his shots, grabbed two rebounds and blocked two shots in nine minutes.
“I feel good after this one,” Hanson said. “It's always good to see your work show out on the court. I'm really happy.”
Hanson played in eight of Creighton's first 11 games, averaging 2.5 points, 1.6 rebounds and 6.5 minutes per contest.
Greg McDermott said Hanson is coming off a string of productive practices.
“Zach's energy has been better, he's finishing better at the rim and he's been demanding the ball a little bit more,” McDermott said. “I had planned to get him out there a little bit more today, and it was good to see him be productive when he was there.”
McDermott admitted it's challenging to find minutes for Hanson and 7-footer Geoffrey Groselle behind Doug McDermott, Ethan Wragge and Will Artino.
“At times, Zach and Geoff have shown signs of being able to help us,” McDermott said. “It's tough to find minutes for those guys but Zach has continued to play hard, he's continued to make progress and I thought we saw some signs of that this afternoon.”
Hanson realizes that with his more experienced teammates playing at a high level, opportunities for him are limited.
“I've just been staying positive no matter how much I've played,” Hanson said. “I've tried to show up the next day not worrying about that (playing time) and just trying to get better.”
Bits and pieces
Creighton has won its past nine home games and has not trailed at any point in the second half of those victories. … Doug McDermott now has 2,513 points and is tied for 59th on the NCAA's all-time scoring chart. … McDermott has scored 20 points or more in 11 of 12 games this season … Creighton's four seniors — McDermott, Manigat, Wragge and Grant Gibbs — went 15 of 21 from 3-point range Sunday. … The Bluejays' 24 assists (on 27 baskets) was their third-highest total of the season. … During its current five-game winning streak, Creighton has attempted 134 of its 268 shots from 3-point range. The Bluejays have made 58 baskets from outside the arc (174 points) and 70 from inside of it (140 points).