Neither a sore shoulder nor Xavier could stop Doug McDermott on Sunday.
Creighton's two-time All-American had another of his show-stopping performances, finishing with 35 points in a 95-89 victory that underscored his ability to impact a game whether he's 100 percent or not.
McDermott downplayed the shoulder injury he suffered in Tuesday's win against DePaul.
“It felt a lot better when I woke up this morning, and I thought that was a good sign,” McDermott said. “I didn't notice it in shootaround, so I really didn't think about it. I played well enough with it being a little sore, and I'll ice it up and I should be even better for Butler.”
The Bulldogs, who visit Tuesday, will be the next opponent that will try to slow McDermott, who notched his 20th career game of 30 points or more while moving up to 28th on the NCAA's all-time scoring chart.
McDermott made 13 of 24 shots from the field, including 4 of 10 3-pointers. He also had seven rebounds, three assists and a steal in 33 minutes.
As usual, McDermott wasn't a one-man show for the Bluejays, who remained unbeaten in Big East play by winning their ninth straight game in front of 17,589 at the CenturyLink Center.
Ethan Wragge had 15 points, nine coming on three straight 3-pointers in a pivotal 62-second stretch to open the second half. Devin Brooks came off the bench to finish with 14 points, while Austin Chatman and Jahenns Manigat added 12 and 11 points. They combined to hit six free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the win that improved Creighton to 14-2 and 4-0 in league play.
“They present so many problems,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said. “Offensively, they might be one of the most talented teams that I've ever coached or scouted against. We didn't have a lot of time to prepare for them, having just played on Thursday.
“But give you a week, and it still would be a yeoman's task. We tried our wrinkles, just like everybody else does, but at the end of the day, it wasn't good enough.”
Mack's team (13-4, 3-1) saw an eight-game winning streak end. Several times during his postgame press conference, Mack stressed that there are no moral victories at Xavier.
He was proud, though, of the way his team made Creighton fans sweat. the Musketeers jumped to a 12-0 lead less than 2½ minutes into the game and then battled back from a 14-point deficit with 8:45 play to make it a one-possession game with 30 seconds left.
Creighton led 89-80 with 1:08 to play, but Justin Martin's fourth 3-pointer, a turnover on the inbounds play and another 3-pointer by Myles Davis left the Bluejays' lead at 89-86.
Chatman then made two free throws with 29 seconds to go and Manigat added two more with 20 seconds left after being fouled when Xavier missed a shot. Martin added one more heart palpitation for the fans when he knocked down a long 3-pointer before Chatman closed the win with two more free throws with seven seconds remaining.
“This is a really good win for us because we played a team that played well,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “Xavier is difficult to stop. It has a lot of weapons, a lot of athleticism and length. For us to hang in there on the backboards was really critical.”
Creighton came within one of matching the Musketeers on the boards (35-34). The Bluejays also had just one more turnover than Xavier, and that was important in a high-possession game. Creighton shot 54.5 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc (14 of 28).
Xavier, which got 27 points from Semaj Christon, finished at 49.2 percent. The Musketeers opened the game as if they wouldn't miss many shots, making 5 of 7 3-pointers. They were up 12-0 when Greg McDermott called time out with 17:49 left in the first half.
Creighton's initial defensive strategy was to have Doug McDermott and Wragge double-team 6-foot-10 center Matt Stainbrook and play off Xavier perimeter shooters such as Martin and Dee Davis. The Musketeers shot holes in that plan, as Martin made three 3-pointers and Dee Davis a fourth in the initial surge.
“We were comfortable with a few of their guys shooting 3-point shots based on the statistics,” Greg McDermott said. “Martin and Dee Davis had each made 14 3-point shots this season, which is one a game.
“They made nine between them tonight. You have to tip your hat to them because they tried to take us out of what we wanted to do, and they made us pay.”
Creighton was playing without its on-floor leader, Grant Gibbs, for the first time in 86 games. Gibbs dislocated a kneecap against DePaul and is out for at least a month.
“I'm proud of my team for its ability not to get rattled,” Greg McDermott said. “Playing without Grant, it's 12-0 and 15-3, but I didn't see many expressions change on the playing floor with our guys.
“They just forged forward, and we started getting better movement on the offensive end. We also started doing a little better job defensively.”
Xavier's largest lead came when Christon's 3-pointer made it 21-8 with 13:48 left in the first half. The Bluejays countered with a 15-1 run that put them ahead when Wragge made the first of his five 3-pointers with 9:04 remaining in the half.
Creighton led 39-35 at halftime, then scored on its first five possessions of the final 20 minutes. McDermott converted a pair of close-in shots before Wragge bombed 3-pointers at the 17:56, 17:16 and 16:54 marks.
“Once I get a feel or once I see, in transition especially, that they're having trouble getting to me, I really don't look,” Wragge said. “Austin and Doug and J (Manigat) did a really good job of finding me in stride, and that makes it easier.
“Once I hit one, I like to get two to follow up behind it and see what goes.”
Xavier spent the rest of the game playing catch-up. The Musketeers got as close as six points before nine straight points by McDermott put Creighton ahead 80-70 with 4:05 to play. The lead was still at nine points before Xavier surged in the final minute.
“That was an incredible basketball game,” Mack said. “I don't know if this is what they envisioned when they reformulated the new Big East, but I don't know if I've been involved in that many games that were as exciting.”
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Video: Highlights from Creighton's win over Xavier
Video: Postgame press conference with Greg and Doug McDermott