With finals week nearly wrapped up, the No. 13 Creighton men’s basketball team headed west with one test remaining: a match-up on the court with the University of California Golden Bears. Behind a sensational performance from junior forward Doug McDermott and lock-down defense on California’s best scorer, the Jays passed the test with flying colors and improved to 10-1 on the season with a 74-64 victory.
McDermott showed off his entire arsenal against the Golden Bears, using a variety of post-ups, face-up jumpers, cuts to the basket and 3-pointers to rack up a season-high 34 points.
“Doug had another special performance,” Creighton head coach Greg McDermott said. “He’s scoring in a lot of ways.”
McDermott scored 18 of that 34 in the first half on 6-8 shooting, but he didn’t get much help as the rest of the team shot just 6-23 combined. The rest of the team picked it up in the second half, however.
“In the second half I thought we got some contributions from other places,” Greg McDermott said. “Gregory Echenique was much more active in the second half, Grant Gibbs hit a couple big threes and Jahenns [Manigat] knocked a couple down as well.”
Echenique shot 3-5 in the second half and finished the game with a 10-point, 11 rebound double-double, and also chipped in five blocks for good measure. Gibbs knocked down both of his second half 3-point attempts an finished with 10 points, three assists and three rebounds.
With the offense not firing on all cylinders, it was the defense that had to carry the Jays. California boasted two of the top wing scorers in the nation in guards Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs. Crabbe entered the game sixth in the country in scoring at 21.9 points per game, while Cobbs was chipping in 17.8 points per game of his own. Greg McDermott said the team’s goal was to keep the high-scoring duo under 50 percent shooting, and not only did the Jays hold them below 50 percent from the field, they held the pair below 40.
“Our main focus was Cobbs and Crabbe, and we did a good job on them,” Doug McDermott said. “We got them frustrated early. Cobbs had a really good game but we held Crabbe in check.”
Cobbs scored 18 points on 8-17 shooting an also dished out seven assists, but Crabbe scored 16 points on just 6-26 shooting, and was completely ineffective for most of the night. Junior guard Jahenns Manigat drew the primary assignment on the California guard and shadowed him all over the court.
“I thought Jahenns had an unbelievable game and forced [Crabbe] into some off-balance shots,” Greg McDermott said.
Manigat, who has struggled with his shot since coming back from a thigh contusion that forced him to miss the team’s season-opening exhibition, also got it going on the offensive end as well, scoring 11 points on 4-7 shooting (2-4 from 3-point range) to go with six assists and five rebounds.
“It’s good to see Jahenns get it back rolling tonight because we need him to step up with Josh out,” Doug McDermott said. “He had a really good game offensively and defensively.”
Creighton returns to the CenturyLink Center Wednesday night to take on Tulsa University. Tipoff is set for 7:05 p.m. The game can be seen on NET and can also be heard on AM 590.