OMAHA, Neb. - Doug McDermott showed no signs of a sprained shoulder, scoring 35 points as Creighton men's basketball won its ninth straight game in an entertaining 95-89 slugfest over Xavier on Sunday before 17,589 fans.
Creighton improved to 14-2 and is tied for first in the BIG EAST with a 4-0 mark. Xavier dropped to 13-4 and 3-1. Both teams entered the contest with eight-game win streaks.
McDermott's 35 point game was the sixth time this season he's reached the 30-point barrier, and 20th time in his career. The two-time First Team All-American also moved from 36th to 28th in NCAA history with 2,616 career points, passing legendary names such as Jimmer Fredette, Joe Dumars, Don MacLean, Mark Macon and Calbert Cheaney in the process.
Xavier came out firing, sinking four three-pointers in the first 129 seconds before a stunned crowd, taking an early 12-0 lead. McDermott answered with a pair of trifectas to help CU get within 15-8, only to see Matt Stainbrook scored twice and Semaj Christon once to give the Musketeers their biggest lead of the day at 21-8.
Sparked by a reserve unit that included Devin Brooks, Will Artino and Isaiah Zierden, the Bluejays battled back. CU embarked on a 15-1 spurt that included three triples to take its first lead at 23-22 on a trey from Ethan Wragge.
The teams traded two more times before Creighton took the lead for good 38-35 with 1:27 left in the first half on another Wragge trey. Creighton led 39-35 at the half in a fast-paced half that saw both teams sink seven three-point shots.
For the 11th straight home game, Creighton would not trail in the second half. McDermott had a pair of scores before Wragge sank three consecutive three-pointers in a span of 62 seconds as CU's lead reached double-figures at 52-41 with 16:54 left.
Creighton's lead reached as large as 14 (71-57) with 8:45 remaining after a Jahenns Manigat triple, but Xavier kept fighting. The Musketeers trimmed the margin to 71-65 with 7:08 left, and got as close as 89-86 with 26.1 left before Austin Chatman sank two foul shots. Manigat and Chatman would also add two more free throws down the stretch as CU closed out its Jesuit rival.
Playing in front of a national TV audience, a dozen scouts and three NBA General Managers, McDermott scored 35 points on 13-of-24 shooting, adding seven rebounds. Wragge had 15 points, Brooks 14, Chatman 12 and Manigat 11 as CU had five men in double-figures for the second straight game. The Bluejays sank 30-of-55 shots and were 14-of-28 from three-point territory. CU also dished 23 assists despite playing without injured Grant Gibbs, who dislocated his kneecap in Tuesday's road win at DePaul.
Xavier was led by 27 points from Christon, one shy of his career-high set on Thursday. James Martin had 21 points and eight rebounds, while Stainbrook turned in a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Dee Davis had 14 points and a game-best eight assists. The Musketeers had 32-of-65 field goal shooting on the day, including 12-of-26 from deep, and sank 13-of-22 foul shots. Xavier outrebounded CU 35-34 and had 21 assists overall.
Creighton returns to action on Tuesday at 8:07 pm when it hosts Butler.
NOTES: Before falling behind 12-0 to start the game, Creighton hadn't trailed at home since Nov. 23rd (Tulsa), a span of 220:07 of gametime ...Creighton improved to 23-15 all-time at CenturyLink Center Omaha when falling behind by 10 or more points ...Creighton's 13-point deficit was its largest at home in the past two seasons ...Will Artino's eight rebounds tied a career-high and were a season-best ...Creighton has now won 22 straight games when Jahenns Manigat makes more than 50 percent of his three-point attempts ...Creighton also owns 22 straight wins when Manigat makes three or more three-pointers ...Avery Dingman made his first career start and threw down his second career dunk ...Creighton has won 100 straight home games when scoring 78 or more points and 62 straight at all sites when scoring 90 or more points.