Creighton guard Nevin Johnson was ready Tuesday night when his number was called.
The redshirt freshman from Houston recorded career highs with nine points in 12 minutes in the No. 13 Bluejays' 91-61 rout of Drake at the CenturyLink Center.
Johnson made an immediate impact, blocking a shot shortly after entering the game and then burying a 3-point shot on Creighton's ensuing possession. He closed out his best night as a Bluejay with a dunk that capped a six-point flurry in a 2½-minute span late in the game.
“This was very important for me,” Johnson said. “Getting out there on the floor is a lot different than practice. That's the main thing I've been doing, practicing and working on my game to try to stay ready.”
Johnson had played in seven of Creighton's past 13 games after missing the first two while recovering from an ankle injury. He had played a total of 18 minutes and scored eight points.
Johnson admitted the lack of playing time had been frustrating, but he tried to maintain a positive approach.
“I've been happy for my teammates when they've done well,” Johnson said. “And whenever I got the chance, I tried to do the best I can. Tonight showed that all the hard work I've been putting in in practice has paid off.”
Wragge remains hot from long range
Creighton came into the game leading the nation in 3-point baskets per game at 9.5. The Bluejays made nine long-range shots in the first half and finished with a season-high 16, which tied the second-highest total in program history.
Creighton set the school record of 20 3-pointers in a game in 2005 against Tennessee-Chattanooga.
Ethan Wragge made six of his final seven shots from behind the arc after missing his first two. Wragge had a seven-game stretch in which he missed 26 of 33 3-point attempts but has made 15 of his 21 attempts from beyond the arc in the Bluejays' past three Valley games.
“I've gotten my feel back the last couple of games,” said Wragge when asked if he's officially out of his shooting slump. “My arm is feeling good and the guys have been really good at finding me in stride. That really helps.”
Creighton coach Greg McDermott said the only difference between the red-hot Wragge and the guy who couldn't buy a 3-pointer in December is health. The 6-foot-7 junior had been bothered by an unspecified arm ailment that required him to wear a protective sleeve. He's gone sleeveless in his past three games.
What impressed Drake coach Mark Phelps about Wragge's shooting exhibition against his team was that several of his makes came on contested shots.
“Of the six he made tonight, we were there on three of them, maybe four,” Phelps said. “With his size and his high release, he's not affected very much by a hand in the face. He's shooting it at a high level and his confidence is off the charts.”
CU shuts down Drake's Simons
Creighton held Drake's Ben Simons to four points, his lowest total since the final game of the 2010-11 season. In addition, Simons had his league-best streak of 30 games with at least one 3-point basket snapped.
Simons, a preseason All-Valley pick, scored 29 points in two games against Creighton last season.
“Ben hasn't been playing great lately,” Phelps said. “Creighton was clearly hugging Ben, as they have in the past. That's how they guard shooters, and Ben started off slowly and never really got on track.”
Bits and pieces
» Creighton improved to 10-1 at home, the 17th straight season the Bluejays have won 10 or more home games.
» The 15-1 start is Creighton's best since the 2002-03 season, and the 4-0 start in league play is its best since 2003-04.
» Gregory Echenique moved into sole possession of fourth place on Creighton's all-time blocked shot list. He entered the night tied for fourth with Brody Deren with 138 blocks and got one against the Bulldogs.
» The crowd of 18,073 was the fourth largest in school history and the third straight sellout.
» Wragge is now fifth with 189 career 3-point baskets, passing Matt Roggenburk (185).
» Creighton never trailed, marking the sixth time this season the Bluejays have led wire to wire.
— Steven Pivovar