Most college basketball coaches would show some concern after a game if their team shot more 3-pointers than attempts from inside the arc, but Creighton head coach Greg McDermott hardly raises an eyebrow.
His Bluejays took 25 of their 48 shots from deep in the 90-58 win over visiting Chicago State on Sunday. CU made 16 of them, good for 64 percent, which probably eased McDermott's worries before they ever surfaced. With a couple of the nation's best shooters at his disposal, the Bluejays' fourth-year head coach has no reservations with his guys letting it fly.
"I don't even think twice about it," said McDermott. "If you're going to give us an open 3-point shot, that's the best percentage shot that we can get, because the numbers say we're going to make between 40 and 45 percent of that."
While the idea of an open trifecta being the preferred choice over an inside shot might sound odd, in Creighton's case, the numbers back it up. On Sunday, Creighton scored 48 points from deep on 25 tries, good for 1.92 points per shot. Compared to 22 points on 23 shots from inside the arch, which amounts to .95 points per shot, and it's easier to see why Coach Mac's crew has the green light.
The difference of nearly a point per shot can be credited to the incredibly efficient shooting display put on by Doug McDermott, Ethan Wragge and Jahenns Manigat on Sunday, but the numbers hold up 12 games into the season. On the year, Creighton has scored 408 points on 311 3-pointers (1.31 per shot) as opposed to 404 points on 374 two-point attempts (1.08 per shot). Few teams are able to boast such ability, and Creighton's shooters used their skills to impress the Chicago State coach.
"We knew that this would be the best team we would play all year. We knew that going in," said the Cougars' head coach Tracy Dildy. "We watched every game that they had played. We knew that this was the best shooting team in the country. If there's another team in the country that shoots the ball like these guys shoot it, I would love to see that team, and I watch college basketball all day everyday."
It was the usual suspect, Doug McDermott, getting the Jays rolling early. The senior from Ames, Iowa started the game 11 points shy of 2,500 career points. Less than seven minutes into the action, McDermott had 16 on an array of threes, free throws and layups. From there, Coach Dildy was forced to make some changes in his defense. McDermott added a pair of free throws later in the half, but with the increased focus on getting him under wraps, McDermott looked elsewhere.
"Just had it going, then Chicago State made a couple changes," said McDermott. "They put a guard on to me and were switching a lot of things and being really physical, but then that opened things up for my teammates, and they knocked down some shots as well."
McDermott's tear gave CU a nine-point lead early -- a Manigat three on the next possession extended the margin to 12 with 14 minutes to play -- but from there Chicago State made the Jays work. Untimely CU turnovers and a couple clutch treys from Quinton Pippen and Clarke Rosenberg reduced the Cougars' deficit to three. Manigat added his third three on the next trip down the court and hit his fourth minutes later to help the Jays to a 45-38 lead at intermission. After McDermott slowed down, Manigat increased his output, making 4 of 5 first-half tries. Manigat added his fifth, and final, three of the night on Creighton's first offensive possession of the second half.
After Manigat made four triples in the first half and one in the second, fellow marksman Ethan Wragge produced the inverse. Wragge hit his only shot attempt of the first half, a three, after playing just six minutes due to a pair of early fouls.
When it looked like Chicago State was going to keep it close for 40 minutes, Wragge intervened. With 15:37 left in the game the senior hit from deep, his first of the final period. In the following three minutes, the Minnesotan added three additional makes from distance on as many attempts. Wragge missed his bid for five consecutive makes with just under 12 minutes to play, but by that time, his makes had produced breathing room, putting the Jays up 18.
"We've played with each other for so long that we understand when someone has the hot hand," said Manigat. "Obviously, Ethan is one of those guys that can get it going pretty quickly. Doug does it on a nightly basis. So, whenever someone has it going, we just try to go back to them, try to find them. We did a pretty good job of that tonight when everybody had their little streak that they were going on."
McDermott scored six points after halftime and finished with 24 points. Four of the All-American's points in the final period came at the free throw line, where he passed Booker Woodfox in the Creighton record books with 37 straight makes.
Manigat and Wragge worked exclusively behind the 3-point line and finished with 15 points apiece. Rosenberg led Chicago State with 14 points, while Pippen followed closely with 13.
Creighton's next game is the one everyone but the coaches have been waiting for. Marquette will spend New Year's Eve in Omaha, as they help a sell-out crowd celebrate the first Creighton men's basketball game as part of the BIG EAST Conference. While the Jays' coaching staff is busy preparing for Buzz Williams' squad, they hope their shooters will make the job a bit easier.
"It was good to shoot the basketball well," said McDermott. "I hope we saved a few for Tuesday because we had a lot of guys clicking on all cyllinders, shooting the basketball from the 3-point line tonight."
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