OMAHA, Neb. -- Tyler Brown had 23 of his game-high 27 points in the second half to lead visiting Illinois State to a 75-72 victory at No. 16/13 Creighton on Saturday night. The contest was played before a national television audience on ESPN2 as well as the second-largest home crowd in school history (18,494).
The loss dropped Creighton to 20-5 on the season and into a three-way tie atop the MVC standings at 9-4. Illinois State has now won six of its last seven, moving to 15-10 overall and 6-7 in the MVC.
The first half featured the back and forth battle many expected from the top two offensive teams in the MVC, including nine lead changes and seven ties. Creighton junior Doug McDermott and Illinois State's Jackie Carmichael led the way for their respective teams as McDermott scored 17 points in the opening period and Carmichael had 12.
Down 6-5 early, the Jays used a 5-0 run on a trey from junior Ethan Wragge and two free throws by McDermott to claim the lead, 10-6 at 14:25. The Redbirds responded with an 8-0 run of their own over the next three minutes. Creighton immediately blasted back with another 5-0 Creighton to make it 15-14. The back and forth affair continued throughout the opening 20 minutes, but the Bluejays struck the final blow as Creighton used an 8-5 run over the final four minutes to take a 39-36 lead in at the break.
The second half belonged to the Redbirds. Illinois State rallied from a 44-40 deficit with 18:47 behind an 8-0 burst over the next 2:27 to claim a 48-44 lead. The Jays reclaimed the lead at 50-48 behind six straight points from freshman Nevin Johnson. Illinois State, however, used another 6-1 to take the lead for good at 54-51 with 13:46 remaining.
The Redbirds eventually pushed its lead to as much as eight at 72-64 with 1:22 on the clock.
Senior Grant Gibbs made it interesting down the stretch with two three-pointers, but it wasn't enough as Creighton dropped its second consecutive contest. ISU would miss three free throws in the final 2:20, including one by Johnny Hill with 35 seconds left that gave CU one last chance.
Gibbs' three-pointer would rattle out, only to be chased down by Wragge. Wrage found an open Jahenns Manigat, but his tying trey was long. Hill grabbed the rebound and hit two at the line with 11.6 left to put ISU up five, but Gibbs would counter those with two free throws with 7.3 left to make it a 75-72 ISU lead.
ISU nearly committed a costly five-second vioation while inbouding the ball, only to be granted a timeout. ISU would then break the press and appeared ready to run out the clock when John Wilkins was called for a double-dribble after his indecision to punctuate the win with a dunk led to him to a turnover. Officials reviewed the game clock and put 1.0 seconds back on the clock. Wragge's 2/3 court heave to McDermott was broken up and time expired before the Jays could put up a shot.
McDermott led Creighton with 24 points and 13 rebounds, while Gibbs chipped in with 16 points and Manigat closed with 11.
Illinois State's Brown led all scorers with 27 points, including 9-of-13 shots after the break. Two other Redbirds finished in double figures as Hill posted 19 points and Carmichael dropped in 16 points. Carmichael's 16 points give him 1,456 in his career, moving him past current coach Dan Muller and into 10th in ISU history.
The nation's leader in three-point percentage and three-pointers made, the Jays struggled from beyond the arc, finishing the night 4-of-23 (17.4%). Illinois State, meanwhile, was 15-of-29 from the field in the second half (51.7%).
Creighton controlled the backboards by a decisive 48-29 margin, but it wasn't enough in the rematch of last year's MVC Tournament final.
Creighton begins a two-game road trip next Wednesday with a 7:05 pm contest at Northern Iowa.