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Doug McDermott buried this game-winner with 2.8 seconds left. (Photo by Mike Spomer)
Courtesy: Mike Spomer

McDermott's Season-High 39; Game-Winner, Helps MBB Over St. John's

OMAHA, Neb.  - Doug McDermott had a season-high 39 points, including a game-winning three-pointer with 2.8 seconds left, as No. 20 Creighton moved back into first place in the BIG EAST Conference with a 63-60 win over St. John's on Tuesday night.

The win was Creighton's 13th in the last 14 games, improving the Bluejays to 18-3 overall and 8-1 in its inaugural BIG EAST campaign. St. John's fell to 12-9 (2-6 BIG EAST) as its three-game win streak was cut short.

McDermott's 39-point effort featured his second game-winner of the year (also Nov. 16 at Saint Joseph's), as he moved past Daren Queenan, Reggie Lewis and Hank Gathers into 18th place in NCAA history with 2,741 career points. In McDermott's legendary 131-game career, he now owns 73 games of 20 or more points and 21 contests of 30+ points. In addition, the 39 points tied the third-highest total of his career and were five shy of his career best done as a sophomore at Bradley.

Creighton led from start to finish for the seventh time in its last nine home games, but this was by far its sternest test of the season at CenturyLink Center Omaha after a valiant comeback by the Red Storm.

With McDermott leading the way, Creighton went up 12-6 by the first media timeout and moved the lead to double-figures for the first time at 20-10 after a McDermott lay-up gave him 14 points. McDermott owned 20 points by halftime as the Bluejay lead was 29-25 despite 10 first-half turnovers by the hosts.

After a JaKarr Sampson score to open the second half trimmed CU's lead to 29-27, the Bluejays caught fire. Creighton embarked on a 19-3 run, holding the Red Storm without a field goal for more than eight minutes, and led 48-30 with 11 minutes to play. At that point, McDermott had 30 points, matching the total for the visitors.

St. John's turned up its defensive intesnsity and scored in transition on multiple occasions to steadily draw closer. A Chris Obekpa steal and feed to Rysheed Jordan made it a four-point game with 3:25 left, and Obekpa later threw down a dunk to close within two with 2:17 left. After a CU miss, the Red Storm tied it for the first time since 4-4  on Sampson's lay-up with 1:37 left to knot the score at 60-all.

Creighton would work to McDermott, who threw in a left-handed floater with 1:03 left to give his team the lead, and Avery Dingman took a charge on the defensive end to give CU the ball back.

Creighton came up empty and St. John's got it, wasting no time before Jordan was fouled while driving to the hoop. The freshman sank both foul shots with 11.1 left, setting the stage for McDermott's heroics. Creighton would break the SJU pressure and feed Jahenns Manigat on the right wing. He would reverse the ball to the top of the key, where Isaiah Zierden screened shotblocking specialist Obekpa just enough for McDermott to drain the open 25-footer with 2.8 seconds left.

St. John's got a half-court shot from Phil Greene IV off just  before the buzzer, but it was short and missed everything as the hosts prevailed for their 14th straight home win.

McDermott was the lone Bluejay in double-figures, making 15-of-26 shots from the field, 5-of-9 three-point attempts and 4-of-5 at the line to score his 39 points. Austin Chatman had seven points, while Dingman (9) and Manigat (7) each snared career-high rebound totals. Creighton shot 48.9 percent from the field, including 7-of-16 from three-point range, and also sank 10-of-15 free throws.

St. John's was led by 15 points from D'Angelo Harrison, while also getting 11 each from Jordan and Obekpa and 10 by Sampson. Obekpa's total was a career-high. The Red Storm shot 42.9 percent for the game, including 1-of-10 from deep and 11-of-16 at the line.

Creighton is off until Feb. 7 when it hosts DePaul in an 8:07 pm game.

NOTES: Creighton has won 14 straight home games, tied for the third-longest streak in CenturyLink Center Omaha history ...The Bluejays have not trailed in the second half in any of those 14 games ...The win was Creighton's 75th all-time as a ranked team in the AP poll ...Doug McDermott moved into second place on Creighton's all-time chart for free throws made with 527 in his career ...Ethan Wragge extended his streak to 21 straight games with a three-pointer, but had his streak of 16 straight games with multiple three-pointers halted after a 1-for-3 effort from behind the arc ...Doug McDermott is now 8-for-11 in the last minute of games from the field in the last two seasons.

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