Creighton took control of Saturday’s game against Indiana State when the Bluejays started taking advantage of their second chances.
After the Sycamores had scored 11 of their 27 first-half points after getting offensive rebounds, Creighton got 17 second-chance points in the final 20 minutes in pulling away for a 79-66 victory at the CenturyLink Center.
“We rebounded the basketball better in the second half,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said, “and we didn’t turn it over.”
In addition to being outrebounded in the first half 17-14, the Bluejays committed seven turnovers. Six came in a span of nine possessions that allowed Indiana State to build a six-point lead.
“There were several occasions where we turned it over trying to do the right thing but just doing it at the wrong time,” McDermott said. “That’s somewhat of a learning process that we have to get through. We can study the film and learn from some of those things.”
Creighton trimmed its turnovers to four in the second half and outrebounded Indiana State 16-8. Seven of the Bluejays’ second-half rebounds came on the offensive end, resulting in a 17-2 edge in second-chance points in the second half.
Center Gregory Echenique and guard Avery Dingman each finished with three offensive rebounds. Dingman had five rebounds to go along with six points and three assists in playing a career-high 26 minutes.
Dingman was averaging about 12 minutes prior to the loss of Josh Jones to a heart condition after the season’s first eight games.
“Avery has played great,” McDermott said. “He was prepared when Josh went down, and it’s really a credit to him what he’s been able to do over the course of the last five or six games.
“He’s playing great basketball for us, and now he just needs to learn to play longer stretches of time and play through that fatigue. He was dragging out there tonight.”
Wragge remains a threat
After a cold December, Ethan Wragge is starting to heat up in January.
He made 3 of 6 shots from 3-point range against the Sycamores after hitting 6 of 9 from beyond the arc in last Wednesday’s win over Illinois State. Prior to that game, the 6-foot-7 junior had battled a 7-of-33 shooting stretch.
Part of the return to form, Wragge said, is that a slight arm injury has improved.
“The last couple of days I’ve been working with the trainer and I’ve gotten some things figured out,” Wragge said. “It feels better.”
Wragge is such a threat from beyond the arc that he can impact the defense without touching the ball. On one occasion in the first half, he sprinted down the court and set up in the corner.
He drew the Indiana State defender that should have been in the middle to his side of the court, leaving the lane open for Austin Chatman to scoot through for an uncontested layup.
“Ethan adds such an element that other teams are scared to leave him,” McDermott said. “That creates openings inside. When Ethan ran to the corner that one time instead of running to the block, the Red Sea opened up for Austin.
“Teams are just not going to leave Ethan in the corner for a 3-point shot. He just brings something different that the big guys have to think about when he’s on the floor. That created some openings for Gregory inside.”
Sycamores start strong
Indiana State, picked seventh in the Missouri Valley preseason poll, wound up an opening stretch against the three teams picked 1-2-3 with a 2-1 record.
“I’m happy with the effort that we’re giving,” Indiana State coach Greg Lansing said. “Our guys are good guys and they’re a joy to be around. Their heads are hanging after this one. My head is hanging.
“We had a great opportunity to beat one of the best teams in the country in a wonderful environment. We just didn’t get it done. We’ll get another shot at them down the road.”
Jays pick up their pace
One reason the Sycamores had a shot at the upset was because of the way they were able to control the tempo in the first 25-plus minutes of the game.
When Creighton finally got the pace to its liking, the Bluejays were able to take control of the game.
“For them, it all starts with Jake Odum,” said Creighton forward Doug McDermott, referring to the Sycamores’ junior point guard. “He penetrates and finds guys. You have to give him a lot of credit.
“They’re a young team, and their young guys stepped up tonight. They have a really bright future.”
Bits and pieces
>> McDermott scored 25 points against the Sycamores to push his career total to 1,728. He moved up to 37th on the Valley’s all-time scoring chart and needs 27 points to move past Nate Funk into sixth place on Creighton’s career chart.
>> The Bluejays have started 14-1 for the fifth time in program history and the first time since the 2002-03 season.
>> Creighton has won 14 straight games in Omaha over Indiana State, with the last seven wins coming by double digits.
>> Creighton’s 55.1 percent field-goal shooting was its best since a Dec. 1 win over St. Joseph’s. The Bluejays shot 56.6 percent in that game.
>> Creighton’s 22 assists were its most since recording a season-high 27 in the Nov. 20 win over Longwood.