Doug McDermott had his third straight double-double and became the first junior in MVC history to reach 2,000 career points as Creighton overcame a 16-point deficit for a 71-68 win at Evansville Saturday afternoon, ending a three-game losing streak.
McDermott is the 15th player in league history to reach 2,000 points. It took him just 101 games, faster than all but one of the last 20 Wooden Award winners (Tyler Hansbrough, 99).
Creighton (21-6, 10-5 MVC) became the first MVC school to post a road win at Evansville (14-13, 7-8 MVC) this season. It also marks the 17th straight season that Creighton has won 10 or more conference games.
With the Bluejays focused on shutting down UE sharpshooter Colt Ryan, it was his teammates that did the heavy lifting in the opening minutes. Three-pointers by Ned Cox and Adam Wing helped Evansville to a 6-0 lead. The Jays got a three-pointer from Jahenns Manigat, only to give up three straight scores inside from Egidijus Mockevicius (twice) and Troy Taylor to make it 12-3. A bucket from Ryan made it 14-3.
The Jays would draw to within 16-15 and have two chances to take the lead, only to come up empty on a turnover followed by a missed shot. The Purple Aces answered with a 13-0 run that was capped by two consecutive treys by Cox that made it 29-15 and forced a second Bluejay timeout. After the break, reserve guard Jordan Nelson scored to give the Aces their largest lead of the half at 31-15.
CU answered with an 11-0 run that included McDermott's first three scores, a three-pointer by Ethan Wragge and two foul shots from Austin Chatman to trim UE's lead to 31-26. CU's defense, which allowed UE to start 13-for-20 from the floor, held the Aces to just one field goal in its last 11 shots in the final 7:45 of the half and the Jays trailed 36-31 at intermission.
Creighton would continue its comeback in the second half on the defensive end while the offense began to click. The Jays got to within one point on a McDermott step-back three-pointer, then took their first lead at 42-40 when Avery Dingman swished a trey. Will Artino closed out the 8-0 run with a bucket, giving CU a 44-40 lead.
The Jays stretched their lead to 53-48 on a Grant Gibbs lay-in with 11:05 left and pushed it to six on a Nevin Johnson free throw. UE got to within 54-54 on Cox's fourth three-pointer, but McDermott scored inside, Wragge hit a three-pointer and Gibbs scored on a tip-in as CU went up 61-53 with 6:40 left.
Evansville fought back, getting a Wing put-back to close to within one point, but Gibbs scored inside after CU's final timeout with 1:41 left. Cox was then fouled with 1:11 left, sinking both as CU's lead was cut to one point. Gibbs then split two free throws to make it a two-point game.
UE had multiple chances to go ahead or tie in the next possession, missing three shots before CU forced a shot-clock violation. The Jays would inbound the ball to Wragge, who sank two foul shots with :20.6 left to make it a four-point lead. Wing would be fouled with :09.3 remaining and sink two foul shots as CU's lead was down to two.
McDermott was fouled with :07.7 left and Creighton up by two. He missed the first free throw but sank the second. A tying try just before the buzzer from Cox rimmed out.
McDermott paced the Bluejays with 21 points and 10 rebounds while adding four assists. Chatman scored 12 points while Gibbs and Manigat each scored nine. Creighton shot 52.2 percent from the field, 50 percent from three-point range and 82.4 percent at the line.
Evansville was led by 18 points from Cox while Ryan finished with 13 points and 10 assists. Also in double-figures was Wing, who scored 10 in his first career start.