DES MOINES — Drake students started Wednesday night chanting “Daddy's Boy” in an attempt to rattle Creighton star Doug McDermott.
They ended it by chanting “Who's Your Daddy” in recognition of the standout performance by Bulldog freshman Daddy Ugbede.
Ugbede, a 6-foot-6 forward from Gardena, Calif., had 12 points and five rebounds Wednesday in Drake's 74-69 upset of No. 17 Creighton. He came into the game averaging 2.3 points and 1.5 rebounds, and had two points and one rebound in the Bulldogs' 91-61 loss in Omaha on Jan. 8.
“Daddy was big, coming with energy especially after Jordan Clarke got into early foul trouble,” Drake forward Ben Simons said. “He created a lot of extra opportunities for us, and that's what Daddy does.
“He comes in and plays hard every day in practice and in games. Daddy does a lot of things that helps the team win. He's going to be a really good player these next four years and he's helping us out a lot this year.”
Ugbede made 4 of 5 shots from the field and was 4 of 8 from the foul line. Two of his free throws came with 4:18 to play, moving Drake's lead to 67-64.
“He made a couple of plays away from the basket that surprised us,” Bluejay coach Greg McDermott said. “We had seen he could score on the basket and was an active defender and rebounder.”
Ugbede was the last player Drake coach Mark Phelps signed last spring. Phelps liked the physical skills and tenacity he saw from Ugbede while recruiting him.
Phelps especially liked what Ugbede provided the Bulldogs after Clarke picked up his second foul midway through the first half.
“In the past, that's been problematic for us,” Phelps said. “Daddy was huge for us tonight.”
Doug feeling ill
There was a reason Doug McDermott didn't look like himself in the second half, and it had nothing to do with another Missouri Valley Conference team loading up its defense to stop him.
McDermott became ill at halftime after scoring 17 of his team's 28 first-half points. He scored two in the final half, missing 5 of 6 shots from the field in 16 minutes in the second half.
“He got sick at halftime,” said Greg McDermott, who declined to bring Doug to the postgame press conference. “I'm not hiding him from you. He has the flu.”
McDermott said his son's illness came on quickly.
“It just came on him at halftime,” the coach said. “He told me in the second half that he felt like he was going to throw up. We tried to get as much out of him in the second half, but he's not feeling real good right now.”
Artino fills in
In addition to McDermott's illness, the Bluejays played much of the final 20 minutes without 6-foot-9 center Gregory Echenique. He picked up his third and fourth fouls with in the first 3:46 of the second half and played just six minutes.
Sophomore Will Artino stepped in and provided Creighton with a strong effort in 10 minutes of play. He made all three of his field goals and both of his free throws to finish with eight points. He also grabbed three rebounds, blocked a shot and had two steals.
Artino had been averaging a little more than six minutes in five of Creighton's first seven Valley games.
“This helps but it's not going to change how I feel the next game if I don't play,” Artino said. “Coach Mac and I have talked about it, and you never know what to expect from each game.
“If there's an opportunity, I'm going to have to step up. It's something I understand and I've accepted my role. I'm going to keep practicing and pushing forward. I'm enjoying this season.”
Defense fuels rally
Creighton's second-half comeback was fueled on the defensive end as the Bluejays held Drake to 33.3 percent shooting, won the rebounding battle 18-17 and forced seven turnovers in the final 20 minutes.
That defensive pressure was almost nonexistent in the first half as the Bulldogs shot 53.3 percent from the field. They scored on their final nine possessions and closed the first half by scoring the last 12 points to take a 44-28 lead.
“There wasn't anyone on our team that was locked in defensively the first half,” Greg McDermott said. “For us to get 44 hung on us, it hasn't happened all year. And why it would coming off a loss is beyond me.”
New game, new story
Creighton enjoyed 20-2 and 42-12 leads in its 91-61 win over the Bulldogs in the first meeting. By the time the Bluejays scored 20 points Wednesday, Drake had 16. By the time Creighton hit 42, the Bulldogs had 49.
“Our mindset was different going into tonight’s game,” said Jeremy Jeffers, who scored 11 points and made all three of his 3-point attempts. “From the coaches to the players, we were honed in.”
Simons said the Bulldogs knew they couldn’t fall behind early in the rematch.
“We were down 20-to-2 in that first game before we even started to play basketball,” he said. “We knew we had to stay right with them at the start of the game and do the things we needed to do.”
Bits and pieces
McDermott saw his Valley-leading streak of making at least one 3-pointer end at 17. He was 0 for 6 from beyond the arc. ... In addition to scoring a season-high 18 points, Grant Gibbs matched his career high with four steals. He also had eight assists and five rebounds. ... Drake's Richard Carter came off the bench to make 7 of 9 shots in scoring a career-high 20 points. ... Echenique blocked two shots, pushing his total to 147 and moving him into a tie for 14th on the Valley's career blocked shots chart. ... McDermott had six rebounds and moved into eighth place on Creighton's career rebounding chart with 710. ... This was the Bluejays' 10th straight trip to Des Moines in which the final margin was 11 points or fewer. Creighton is 5-5 in those games.
— Steven Pivovar