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Wednesday / June 7.
  • McDermott, Creighton Light Up MSG in Big East Tournament Debut

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    McDermottBy JOSH NEWMAN

    Special to ZAGSBLOG

    NEW YORK — Having blown out Villanova twice during the regular season, Creighton came East this week as the favorite for its first-ever Big East Tournament title.

    Their status only became more entrenched when Seton Hall stunned the top-seeded Wildcats early Thursday afternoon.

    And once the ball went up for the Blue Jays’ Thursday evening quarterfinal against DePaul, it didn’t take long for Creighton to showcase itself as the favorite. More specifically, it took six seconds.

    Creighton’s National Player of the Year candidate, Doug McDermott, canned a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the 19:54 mark, setting off the most remarkable individual half the Big East Tournament has ever seen. McDermott scored 27 of his game-high 35 points in the first half as the Blue Jays overwhelmed the Blue Demons, 84-62, in front of a raucous, pro-Creighton crowd at Madison Square Garden.

    The 27 points, which came on 10-for-14 shooting, including 7-for-9 from 3-point range, are a Big East Tournament-record for points in a half. Providence’s Billy Donovan and Connecticut’s Donyell Marshall scored 26 in a half in 1987 and 1994, respectively.

    McDermott, the Big East Player of the Year registered his 11th game of at least 30 points this season.

    “Doug’s performance in the first half was one of the better ones I’ve seen and I’ve seen some good ones out of him,” Creighton head coach Greg McDermott said. “That’s about as good as it gets.”

    The last and only other time McDermott played at Madison Square Garden was on Feb. 9. He scored 25 points on 10-for-18 shooting, but St. John’s held him without even a shot attempt over the final 8:41 in a 70-65 Red Storm victory.  With the stakes higher on Thursday evening, not to mention the rest of the week, McDermott was up to task in front of a large contingent of Creighton fans who made the trip from the Midwest.

    The 3,000-point scorer hit seven of his first nine shots, including six of his first seven from 3-point range, many of which were wide-open looks as DePaul failed to close out on him too much of the time. The Blue Jays’ first-half lead would reach as many as 20 and while Greg McDermott harped on the fact that his team could never deliver a second-half knockout blow, their effort was more than enough on this night to advance.

    Admittedly, aside from the obvious business of playing a game against St. John’s, Creighton’s first trip to the Garden back in February was partially a shock-and-awe experience, specifically during shootaround that morning with pictures being snapped and sights being taken in. Those types of things were predictable much of the team had never played at The World’s Most Famous Arena.

    In hindsight, it was good that the Blue Jays were able to get that shock and awe out of the way in February and not this week with a conference tournament title on the line.

    “St. John’s did a great job there in the second half, but a lot of it was my fault,” Doug McDermott said. “I kind of quit moving a little. I got to do that for us to be successful. I wanted to come in with a mindset today just to keep moving, just be aggressive. It’s not only going to give me shots, but it’s going to get shots for my teammates.”

    Creighton shot 60.4 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from 3-point range as the guard tandem of Jahenns Manigat and Austin Chapman combined for 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting, including 5-for-7 from 3-point range.

    “I wasn’t shooting the ball too well down the stretch there of the season,” Manigat said. “My coaching staff kind of kept telling me, ‘If you’re open, if you’re comfortable, let it fly.’ I came in with that kind of mindset today.”

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