The abridged version of Creighton's 84-62 Big East Tournament quarterfinal victory over DePaul Thursday night would consist of two words: Doug McDermott. The nation's leading scorer, a three-time All-American, had 35 points, including a tournament-record 27 in a first-half attack from which DePaul never recovered.
But there was more to it than that. DePaul wormed its way back from a 20-point halftime deficit to within 10 midway through the second half. And that's when Creighton, in its Big East Tournament debut after having immigrated from the Missouri Valley Conference, demonstrated that the 6-8 McDermott could count on help from his mates.
A couple of three-point baskets by senior Ethan Wragge, the son of a former Iowa girls high school superstar; some athletic inside work by junior Avery Dingman, precise direction from junior Austin Chatman (11 points, nine assists), and senior guard Jahenns Manigat's hot hand (14 points) held the fort during McDermott's more human second half.
Shooting a fiery 60 percent from the floor as a team, Creighton (25-6) cruised into Friday night's semifinal against Xavier.
Still, it could not have happened without McDermott's performance -- 14-for-22 from the field, 7-for-10 on three-pointers. He had the large contingent of Creighton boosters, their 1,240-mile journey from Omaha paying off, howling.
Creighton coach Greg McDermott, Doug's father, acknowledged having seen similar shows before, "but Doug's performance in the first half was about as good as it gets. When he's like that, I see a guy that wants the ball a little more, and his teammates were getting it to him. Our team is about playing together."
Doug McDermott called the feeling "surreal . . . I was just feeling it. I felt I could make it from anywhere. It feels like that hoop is huge. You feel all the energy and the confidence in the world."DePaul's defenders leaned on McDermott from behind, muscled him from the front, wrapped him in surreptitious bear hugs away from the refs' eyes. McDermott's riposte, time and again, was to step back and sink another three-pointer.
"We were just trying to throw different people at him," said Brandon Young, who led DePaul with 22 points. "I was sticking with him at one point, Charles [McKinney], Jamee [Crockett], just throwing different pieces at him. But great players do great things."