Creighton guard Josh Jones was back with his team Sunday as he watched the 77-61 win against Akron from the bench.
Jones fainted during warmups before Thursday's win at Nebraska. He was hospitalized that night, and faces additional tests this week to determine when, or if, he'll get the chance to play again.
He received a loud ovation when he entered CenturyLink Center just before game time. The fans also gave him a standing ovation when he was shown on the arena's video boards late in the game.
“Josh came by practice yesterday and he addressed the team,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “The important thing is that long term it appears he's going to be fine but it's a scary situation for someone that you care about that much who loves Creighton, this basketball program and this city.
“When they put the camera on him and he got that standing ovation, obviously that love goes both ways.”
Jones wasn't made available for interviews after the game but his teammates said having him around provided the team with a big lift.
“He hurt us Thursday finding out 40 minutes before that game that one of our teammates wasn't going to be with us,” Creighton guard Jahenns Manigat said. “Josh's smile is infectious, and just having him in the locker room and in the huddles was really nice.
“Every time we got a little bit tired, we know he'd be willing to do whatever he could to be on the floor. He's going through a tough time but the Josh I know isn't going to stay down for long. We're going to see him back at some point, and until that happens we're going to play hard every day for him.”
Gibbs making plays
Grant Gibbs continues to work his magic on the court for the Bluejays.
One of his three baskets against the Zips came on an out-of-bounds play underneath Creighton's basket. Gibbs bounced the inbounds pass off an Akron player's back, picked it up and made a layup.
He's successfully worked that play at least twice in the past two seasons.
“I'd figure that would be in the scouting report by now,” Gibbs said. “It's just one of those things where I see on film that they're playing zone or they'll turn the guy back around that's guarding the ball, I just look for it and sneak it in there.”
Gibbs also scored on a rare dunk in the first half. Which basket was more memorable?
“They're equally memorable,” he said, smiling.
Gibbs finished with seven points, six rebounds and eight assists. In his last three games, the 6-foot-5 senior has 27 assists and one turnover.
“I can't believe you turned it over,” said Greg McDermott in mock disgust.
Gibbs downplayed his recent achievements.
“I'm just trying to make good decisions,” he said. “Some of it is that they're just giving me assists. It's not like I'm creating spectacular plays. I'm just trying to make simple plays and put the ball in the hands of guys that make baskets consistently.
“It's nothing spectacular.”
His coach would beg to differ. He said last week that it could be a long, long time before Creighton sees another player with the savvy playmaking ability that Gibbs possesses.
The numbers back that up. In 10 games this season, Gibbs has 66 assists and nine turnovers, a 7.3-to-1 assists-to-turnovers ratio.
Revenge for Bluejays
Creighton's victory avenged a 76-67 loss to the Zips in the 2011 BracketBusters series.
“Their will was better than our will today,” Akron coach Keith Dambrot said. “We knew we couldn't win a game in the mid-70s. We did a poor job of guarding them, and they're really good on offense.
“I don't want to take anything away because they're very, very gifted offensively but we messed up a lot on simple rotations. And I think those two games in three weeks hurt us. We didn't have any juice, any life.”
The Zips' only game between Nov. 18 and Sunday was a Dec. 2 contest against Middle Tennessee.
Akron allowed Creighton to make 10 of 22 3-pointers. The Zips had been allowing opponents to shoot 38.5 percent from beyond the arc.
“We were a 29- or 30-percent defensive team from the 3-line last year,” Dambrot said. “We got our face shot off tonight. We're not going to win games like that.”
Bits and pieces
Creighton forward Doug McDermott's six 3-pointers were a career high. He twice had made five 3-pointers, both in games against St. Joseph's. McDermott's 30-point game was the ninth of his career and second of the season. … The Bluejays got solid play from back-up center Will Artino, who logged a season-high 12 minutes. He scored Creighton's final four points of the first half, with one of his baskets coming on a tip-in. … Greg McDermott improved to 9-1 in games associated with BracketBusters, including 4-0 in return games. ... Manigat's nine points were a season high. … Akron fell to 0-25 as a Division I team all time against ranked opponents.
— Steven Pivovar