March 14, 2014
NEW YORK – Doug McDermott was not blinded by the bright lights of the big city.
In only his second appearance at Madison Square Garden, the BIG EAST Player of the Year shot the lights out for 35 points, his 10th 20-plus point outburst in the last 11 games, to pace Creighton to a 84-62 win over DePaul in the Bluejays' first game in the BIG EAST Tournament presented by NEW YORK LIFE on Thursday night.
Second-seeded Creighton (25-6) will play Xavier, a 68-65 winner over Marquette in the other Thursday night quarterfinal, in Friday's semifinal round.
McDermott drained his first trey just seconds into the game and, except for a few misfires, the senior was rarely off target as he wowed the blue-clad pro-Creighton crowd and left the Blue Demons always a step behind or a second late in defending him.
“Great players do great things,” said DePaul’s Brandon Young, one of the Blue Demons who spent a pretty much fruitless game trying to slow McDermott down.
In an arena where extraordinary is not unusual, McDermott shined as bright as the best, shooting 14-of-22 from the floor and a dazzling 7-of-10 from the three point line.
“As a kid you dream of playing in venues like this," said McDermott. “The Garden is about as good as it gets. I watched the tournament growing up a lot. So just to be a part of it definitely was in the back of my mind. In the warmups, it felt surreal out there.”
He was unstoppable in a memorable and historic first half. He scored a tournament record 27 points for a half on 7-of-9 3-pointers, nearly outscoring DePaul all on his own. Creighton led at the half 49-29.
“Doug’s performance in the first half was one of the better ones I’ve seen and I’ve seen some good ones out of him, but that was about as good as it gets,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said of his son.
“It feels like the hoop is huge,” said Doug. “It just feels like everything’s going to go in. It’s one of those feelings where you just feel like you have all the energy and confidence in the world. It is a feeling that is the best.”
The 6-foot-8 Sports Illustrated cover boy showed off his full repertoire of smooth outside shooting, strong moves to the basket and unselfish deft passing that has made him a two-time All-American and up for more national awards this season.
“Doug is a great player,” said teammate Jahenns Manigat, who was also on target scoring 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting. “If he doesn’t have it, he doesn’t force it. He’s an easy guy to play with.”
While he cooled off in the second half as DePaul made him work just to touch the ball on several possessions, his acrobatic one-hander gave the Bluejays a 65-50 cushion with a little more than 8 minutes to play. Creighton was never challenged from there and McDermott spent the final minutes on the bench, resting for an encore Bluejays fans hope goes beyond just Friday night.