It's no secret that Doug McDermott is one of the toughest defensive assignments in college basketball, and the senior showed why on Monday night, scoring 37 points in the Bluejays' 96-70 victory over visiting University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Creighton's all-time leading scorer wasted no time leaving his mark in the Jays' second game of the year. McDermott scored 14 seconds after the tip and scored CU's first nine points, much to the chagrin of first-year UMKC coach, Kareem Richardson.
"Anytime somebody comes out and has a start like that, whether it's Doug or anybody, it obviously affects you," Richardson said. "It makes you have to adjust and do some things differently that you may not necessarily do. The difficult thing about Doug is he's so efficient with his game and he's so quick around the basket. It's hard to get to a double team with him."
Austin Chatman and Will Artino added buckets to give the hosts a 13-8 lead at the first media time out. When play resumed, the Kangeroos capitalized on CU turnovers and errant jumpers, claiming a 23-21 lead after a Caleb Johnson 3-pointer.
McDermott responded with a three and a lay up on consecutive possessions, which reignited the Bluejays. Redshirt freshman Isaiah Zierden and junior Avery Dingman added makes from behind the arc, as CU built its lead. With under a minute to play in the half, Will Artino found an open McDermott just in front of the UMKC bench. McDermott connected on his fourth 3-pointer of the half just as Trinity Hall ran into him. After the two-time All-American pulled himself up from the ‘Roos' bench, he headed to line to convert the four-point play and recorded his 25th point of the opening half.
"Just a great find in the corner there, shot the shot, he kind of pushed me and I hit my head on one of the benches, so that kind of hurt," McDermott said.
Austin Chatman banked in a circus three over 6-foot-10 Isaac Kreuer as time expired, and CU took and 48-31 lead into halftime.
Unfortunately for UMKC, the second half started much like the first. Eleven seconds in, Grant Gibbs fed McDermott for a layup. Less than 30 seconds later, Gibbs found McDermott open behind the three point line. The two seniors linked up for a layup the next minute, which gave McDermott 32 points and increased the Jays' lead to 20. McDermott rounded out his scoring total with two more layups and a free throw, scoring 37 points in 31 minutes. On a night where he made 15 of his 25 shots, McDermott thought about the points he left on the floor.
"I missed a lot of shots that I should have made," the leading scorer said. "Just kind of in one of those zones. My teammates did a really good job of finding me. We really did a good job of getting our transition game early, and that's where I kind of got things going."
McDermott's performance was not the only impressive showing by a Jay. Austin Chatman was three rebounds and one assist shy of a triple double, as he finished with 12 points. Coach Richardson, a former point guard at Evansville, was complimentary of the Jays' floor general following the game.
"Doug does what he does, scoring 37 points, but I thought Chatman really made the team go for them," said the Kansas City coach. "With nine or 10 assists and no turnovers, he makes everybody else's job for Creighton a lot easier."
Isaiah Zierden was the only other Bluejay in double figures, recording 10 points. Devin Brooks scored only four points but grabbed a team-high nine boards – four offensive – and dished out five assists. Brooks and Chatman combined for 16 rebounds. Without of Gregory Echenique, who controlled the paint for the last two-plus years, the CU coaches have stressed the importance of CU's guards hitting the glass.
"We've got to make up the slack somewhere, and everyone else is really the same. Doug is Doug. Ethan is Ethan. Grant is Grant. Will is a different kind of rebounder than Gregory was. You know Zach (Hanson) is a freshman and we're trying to get Geoff (Groselle) healthy" Coach McDermott said. "So, it's got to come from somewhere. Guys like Austin and Devin and Jahenns (Manigat), Isaiah, Avery, they need to dig in and rebound for us. For the most part through two games, they've done that."
The Bluejays may very well need their guards to rebound against their next opponent, St. Joe's. Coach McDermott's squad lost in Philadelphia two years ago, but grounded the Hawks in Omaha last season. Coach McDermott expects Phil Martelli will have his team ready to go following last year's 80-51 drubbing at the hands of the Bluejays.
"It's a very difficult place to play," said the Bluejays' coach. "It's a small arena; the fans are right on top of you. And probably the most important thing is they've got a good team and they're very well coached. We played one of our best games of the season against them last year on a day when they probably played one of their poorest games. They will be ready."
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