Special doesn't even come close to describing McDermott's heroics. McDermott was absolutely on fire this night, scoring 35 points (on 14-22 shooting, including 7-10 from three-point range) while leading the 14th ranked Creighton Blue Jays (25-6) easily past the DePaul Blue Demons (12-21), 84-62, in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament on Thursday night.
"I was just feeling in the rhythm, in the zone and I felt I could make it out there." McDermott said after the game. "I just happened to get going, and my teammates recognized that I had the hot hand."
DePaul coach Oliver Purnell was just in sheer amazement of McDermott.
"I think McDermott once again proved that, in my opinion, he's the best player in the country" Purnell said.
With DePaul down 8-6 with 16:14 to go, Creighton would go on a 9-0 run to take command early in the first half and would lead at halftime, 49-29, behind McDermott's whopping 27 first-half points, which is a new Big East Tournament record for points in a half.
DePaul, though, would go on a spirited 10-0 run midway through the second half to cut Creighton's lead to 11, 54-43, with 14:41 to go.
Creighton would respond by scoring the next four points, but DePaul would answer by going on a 5-0 run of their own to cut the lead back down to a manageable 10-point deficit with 11 minutes to go.
However, at that point, the gas left in DePaul's tank was fluttering on empty. Creighton would effectively put the game away with a 12-4 run, which was punctuated by an Ethan Wragge three-pointer with 7:05 to go that put the Blue Jays up 70-52.
"Obviously, we dug ourselves a hole—or Creighton had dug a hole for us at that point" Purnell said. "I thought it was a combination that we weren't quite as energized and ready as we were yesterday, and a combination of Creighton and McDermott were really good."
This ends DePaul's tumultuous season of ups and mostly downs. DePaul finished the season 12-21, which had to be below everyone's expectations. Purnell, who is expected to be back for next season, still took a lot away from this tournament, especially getting the win over Georgetown.
"I told some of the guys that we've got to learn from this year," said Purnell "Some of the things maybe we did to ourselves or other things that happen to you; you just have to hang in there and you have a chance to be successful. I think we have the opportunity to do that with the guys we have coming back and the few guys we have coming in. We can do really well this (coming) year."
For Brandon Young, who finished with a team-high 22 points (7-18 from the field), this was his last game in a Blue Demon uniform. For a player who recently moved past George Mikan on the scoring list in DePaul's record book, Young will look fondly back on his career.
"You know overall, I had a great four years here," Young said. "I want to thank Coach Purnell and everybody that's with DePaul athletics (for) just giving me the opportunity to play basketball here and maturing as an individual."
Jamee Crockett, who has been in a season-long rut, had a season-high 13 points, which was second most for the Demons.
"I think that helps him (Crockett) from a confidence standpoint," said Purnell after the game about Crockett's contributions. "He's not in great shape, but today was probably the longest stretch he's gone in a while and he played pretty effectively."
Creighton will now go on to face the winner of the Marquette/Xavier game in the Big East semifinals on Friday night.
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