Creighton forward Doug McDermott's focus sharpened as he watched video of his lowest-scoring game in almost two years.
The combination of foul trouble and Alabama-Birmingham's double-teaming defense limited the All-American to five points in a 77-60 victory. Seeing the Blazers devote so much effort on him left McDermott convinced of the benefits.
“We did a good job, especially in the second half, of finding openings,” McDermott said. “If teams are going to pay that much attention to me, we're going to get the ball to our shooters and make them pay.”
Presbyterian is the next team that must decide how it wants to try to defend Creighton. The Blue Hose visit CenturyLink Center for a 2:05 p.m. game Sunday against the Nos. 13 and 15 Bluejays.
Creighton coach Greg McDermott said the inside effectiveness of his son and center Gregory Echenique leaves opponents facing difficult decisions.
Play them one-on-one, and McDermott and Echenique are capable of inflicting serious damage. Run help at the two players whenever they touch the ball, and opponents are left vulnerable to the Bluejays' perimeter sniping.
“The reality of it is that if teams are going to commit two or three guys to Doug, we're just going to play out of it,” the coach said. “Josh Jones shot a lot of wide open 3s the other night when there were three guys on Doug.”
Jones made 4 of 6 shots from beyond the arc in scoring 18 points against UAB. Jones' second-half outburst helped bury the Blazers, and Creighton finished the game with 10 3-point baskets.
Doug McDermott took just six shots against UAB, his fewest since he had five field-goal attempts in the final game of his freshman season. The only other time in 76 games in which he scored fewer than five points came on Dec. 11, 2010, when St. Joseph's held him scoreless in the ninth game of his freshman season.
McDermott had scored 10 points or more in 37 straight games until the Blazers snapped that streak.
“I was on a roll there for so long,” McDermott said. “That game was good for me. Sure, it was frustrating, but we got the win, and that's the beauty of it.”
McDermott showed that frustration at times during the UAB game, but he said he was more upset with himself for getting into early foul trouble rather than his lack of production. He picked up two fouls — the first on a charge, the second on a block — in the span of a minute and found himself on the bench for the final 13 minutes of the first half.
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“It's frustrating when you have all these people here and you're excited to play in front of them to be taken out of the game that fast,” McDermott said. “I went to the bench and was mad the whole time because I wasn't out there.
“It puts a mental hit on you. I tried to let it go and play my game the second half, but it was tough to get going.”
Of course, having a couple of Blazers hanging on you at all times can take a toll, too. Both McDermotts knew coming into the season that the player would see even more defensive attention than he did last season, when he finished as the country's third-leading scorer with a 22.9 average.
Greg McDermott said the coaches continue to work to try to come up with plays that will free up Doug.
“It's hard to double-team in the middle of the floor,” Greg McDermott said, “so we'll have to try to get him the ball there.”
Creativity can help, but Doug McDermott is convinced that sticking with what made him successful will pay off in the long run.
“My mentality is not going to change,” he said. “I'm going to run the floor every time, try to beat my guy and get him tired. I'll do what I've always done, and I think everything will take care of itself.”
» NOTES: Sunday's game is the first of four that the Bluejays are playing in the Las Vegas Invitational. The first two will be at home against Presbyterian and Longwood (Tuesday), with the last two coming Friday and Saturday in Las Vegas. ... Presbyterian is 0-2, having lost road games at Clemson and Georgia Tech. The Blue Hose led the Yellow Jackets by a point at halftime before Georgia Tech used an 18-0 second-half run in pulling out a 52-38 victory. ... Creighton has won 25 straight games, by a margin of 26.4 points, against opponents that enter a game winless. The streak dates back to the 1994 season. ... This is the first meeting between the teams. ... A victory would give the Bluejays a 3-0 start for the 11th time in the past 13 seasons. ... Presbyterian had been a provisional Division I member since 2007 but was granted full membership in August. That means the Blue Hose are eligible for the first time to play for a conference title and a spot in the NCAA tournament. ... Presbyterian is 27-50 against Division I teams since 2007.
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