Creighton adopted a no-tolerance policy in the two days of practice before Saturday's game against St. Joseph's.
Stung by an upset loss to Boise State, the Bluejays decided to quit accepting some of the slip-ups and mistakes that might have gotten overlooked in the past. Forward Doug McDermott credited the approach for the juiced-up effort that produced Saturday's overwhelming 80-51 win over the Hawks.
“I think our team grew up a lot these last couple of days,” Doug McDermott said. “We were holding each other accountable. We would have rather won that Boise State game, but it was a huge wake-up call for this team.
“We just can't go out on a given night and win because of our talent. We have to be locked in every single day.”
Asked for an example of that greater sense of accountability, McDermott replied: “If a guy was screwing up, one of our leaders got on them for something that was done wrong. We hear the coaches getting on us every day to do little things right, but I think it means more coming from a teammate.'
Gregory Echenique, too, noticed some subtle and other less-than-subtle changes in the way the Bluejays went about their practice business.
“You have to quit making excuses,” Echenique said. “We're all friends, but if you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing, we should be able to call each other out. We did, and it worked.”
Echenique said it's important now to maintain that approach.
“We have to keep that same mindset that we had after we lost,” he said. “It wasn't a good feeling, and we don't want to be back there.”
Big early Creighton lead buries Hawks
Creighton blew out to a 24-5 lead nine minutes into the game and owned a 30-point cushion with 3:28 left in the opening half.
The Bluejays' early blitz left St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli with no answers. He called time with 12:06 left in the first half and again with 7:41 left in an attempt to slow the Creighton tidal wave that was threatening to sweep away his team.
“I'm a believer that you can look into the eye and see what's in the heart,” Martelli said. “There were some eyes (in the huddle) looking at me saying, 'Coach, fix this, fix this.'
“Really, at that point, I can't fix it. I can shake it or twist it, but I can't fix it if the ball isn't dropping or we're turning it over.”
Martelli said his game plan emphasized taking care of the basketball, but the Hawks committed 17 turnovers, 10 of which came in the first 20 minutes.
“We felt that if we had care of the ball,” he said, “we'd get shots that we wanted to get.”
The Hawks' 29.6-percent shooting in the first half partly could be attributed to the poor shots they were forced to take once Creighton started to get some separation. At one point, St. Joseph's fired up six straight 3-point attempts and missed five.
Gibbs, Chatman boost team with efficient play
Grant Gibbs and Austin Chatman combined for 15 assists with just one turnover while playing against an athletic St. Joseph's backcourt.
Chatman also turned in a strong defensive effort against Carl Jones, who had 29 points against Creighton in last season's 80-71 St. Joseph's win in Philadelphia. The Hawks' scoring leader with a 17.7-point average, Jones made just 3 of 10 shots and finished with nine points against the Bluejays.
“Chasing Carl Jones around the whole game is a tall task,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “I thought Austin handled it well. He's our best perimeter defender, and he showed it tonight.”
Gibbs finished the game with a season-high nine assists, no turnovers, four points, four rebounds and a steal in playing a team-high 31 minutes.
“He's unbelievable,” McDermott said. “I hope our fans are enjoying what they see, because they may never see it again. I've never coached a wing player that has that kind of savvy.
“It's one thing to make those assists, but when you're making those decisions, you'd think you'd make some mistakes. He doesn't make many mistakes, and that's a credit to him and his coaches when he was young. Someone taught him to play the game the right way.”
Bits and pieces
» Former Creighton basketball coach Tony Barone, former baseball coach Jim Hendry and Missouri Valley commissioner Doug Elgin were in attendance for Saturday's game.
» Doug McDermott made 5 of 7 3-point shots in scoring a game-high 23 points. McDermott was 6 of 20 from beyond the arc in Creighton's first six games but made 9 of 12 3-point attempts in games against Boise State and St. Joseph's. His five 3-pointers Saturday tied his career high.
» Creighton senior guard Joe Kelling scored his first career points with a basket in the final minute.
» St. Joseph's loss was its largest since an 88-52 drubbing by Xavier on Feb. 17, 2010.
» Creighton made all 10 of its free throws, its first perfect performance from the line in 159 games at the CenturyLink Center.
» The Bluejays never trailed. It's the second time this season and the 38th time at the CenturyLink Center that Creighton has led wire-to-wire.
— Steven Pivovar