FULLERTON, Calif. — San Diego State’s athleticism and length dealt Creighton fits in Friday night’s 86-80 loss to the Aztecs.
Coach Steve Fisher kept running players at the Bluejays who were quick, agile and long. The smallest Aztec who played was 6-foot-3 Xavier Thames, and he scored 26 points in handing Creighton its first loss of the season.
“We haven’t seen a team like that this year,” Creighton forward Doug McDermott said. “They did a great job of driving into the gaps. I thought they were a lot like Tulsa, a little more athletic and taller.
“We’re going to face teams like that in the Big East, so it was great to see a team like that. We came up short, but I’m happy with the way we bounced back.”
Creighton trailed by 19 points early in the second half but found itself with a chance to tie the game with a 3-pointers with 27 seconds to play.
“We’re not the most athletic team, we’re not the most physically gifted team,” Creighton forward Ethan Wragge said. “Against a team like San Diego State, those little execution mistakes we made will cost us.”
Board work hurts Creighton
San Diego State built a 37-29 rebounding advantage, including grabbing 12 offensive rebounds.
“We have to be more effective on the backboards,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “We have to gang rebound because we don’t have what I consider an elite rebounder on this team.”
Gibbs led the Bluejays with six rebounds to go along with eight points and seven assists. Guard Devin Brooks grabbed five, while Wragge, Doug McDermott and Austin Chatman each had four.
Winston Shepard led San Diego State with 10 rebounds.
“We have to have all five guys in there crashing,” Wragge said. “We have to make sure we get a body on guys earlier and faster. We just have to fight.”
Bits and pieces
» Creighton’s game Sunday against George Washington will begin at 6 p.m. The Bluejays will have a shoot-around Saturday at the Honda Center, the site for Sunday’s action. They’ll also visit Disneyland.
» Doug McDermott made three straight 3-pointers in the early going and finished 5 of 8 from beyond the arc in his 30-point night. Wragge also made five 3-pointers in scoring 15 points as Creighton shot 13 of 27 from 3-point range.
» McDermott has scored 20 points or more in eight straight games.
» Creighton had won 60 straight games in which it held a double-digit lead at some point in the contest. The Bluejays led 14-2 after the game’s first four minutes.