PHILADELPHIA -- It looks like the new Big East has a chance to be as physical as the old Big East if Creighton's 67-63 victory over Cincinnati in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Friday at Wells Fargo Center is any indication.
Mick Cronin's Bearcats could well be the sergeant-at-arms for the old Big East given their dedication to a bare-knuckled brand of defense. Some wondered whether Creighton, which just joined the new Big East, could go the distance in a hard-knocks game, but 6-8, 225-pound Doug McDermott and 6-9, 260-pound Gregory Echenique proved too tough to handle inside.
McDermott led Creighton (28-7) with 27 points and 11 rebounds, and Echenique added 13 points and seven rebounds. Ethan Wragge had 12 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting to keep Cincinnati (22-12) from collapsing on the Bluejays' big men.
The Bearcats had four double-figures scorers in Sean Kilpatrick (19), Cashmere Wright (15), Shaquille Thomas (12) and Titus Rubles (11), but got to the foul line just nine times (4 of 9) compared with 25 for Creighton (22-for-25).
Creighton coach Greg McDermott wanted a high-tempo game to take advantage of his shooters but didn't get it. "In some ways, we had to beat them at their own game,'' the coach said.
The coach's son played a big part with his array of inside moves and ability to step out and hit threes, and so did Echenique, a transfer from Rutgers. Cincinnati's Kilpatrick was impressed.
"They're both great players, especially in the post,'' Kilpatrick said. "If you have a 6-8 guy that can really do almost everything -- make threes, take you off the block and everything -- it's kind of tough. We're not used to 6-8 guys like that.''
Kilpatrick hit a fadeaway as the shot clock expired and followed with a dunk to tie the score at 54 with 3:31 left. But Echenique powered up for a layup and a lead the Jays never lost.
"Gregory Echenique was huge for us,'' Greg McDermott said. "He had the basket of the game when it was tied at 54.''
After transferring, Echenique lost 40 pounds to become effective. As Bearcats coach Cronin said, "Gregory's physicality was the difference. You can only do so many things to [defend] Doug. It's more feasible to stop Gregory from getting five layups . . . We play in the Big East, so we see real players all the time, and he can play anywhere for anybody.''