Doug McDermott takes home a piece of the net he set on fire - Dave Weaver-USA Today Sports
How could you tell that Saturday was going to be Creighton's day when all was said and done? With a double-digit lead already and fending off Wichita State's defense, the Bluejays took an offensive possession deep into the shot clock with a little more than seven minutes remaining in the game.
The Shockers' stifling defense had started to assert itself and kept Creighton from a decent look at the basket. With three seconds remaining of the 35, Grant Gibbs took a cross-court pass from Austin Chatman right in front of the Jays' bench.
Starting from his tip toes because he was so close to the sideline that he couldn't put his feet completely down, Gibbs jumped and fired a desperation three. Swish.
Creighton went on to win 91-79, securing its first outright Missouri Valley title in 12 years. Think about that: a Creighton team that has become the face of the Missouri Valley in the recent past hasn't actually taken home the conference title since most of the players were younger than Gibbs' number 10.
And here is how good they were Saturday: the play that stood out the most of the Jays was that Gibbs three, not the 41 points that Doug McDermott scored, his season high and the most he has ever scored at home in his three-year Creighton career.
So let's talk about Dougie's big afternoon, which began with a ridiculous 7-for-7 from the floor and just kept getting better. He missed all of three shots, all of them from behind the arc, and his dominance didn't end there. He had six rebounds (best for the Jays) and three assists.
If this is his final regular season game for Creighton, that is one heck of a wave goodbye. And that is one heck of a statement to make in your final contest, one that will live on for its personal and team significance.
And how reminiscent is this of a game a few months ago, one that had us proclaiming that McDermott was indeed the best player in the country. And that was Missouri State, not exactly the defensive stalwart that Wichita State is. McDermott had fallen off that pace lately, the one that looked for all the world like he could walk away with the award. But this is a reminder to everyone who wrote him off that he still exists, and that the beginning of the season was no fluke.
Teams might have learned to defend him better over the last month or so. Apparently Wichita State didn't get the memo.
Consider that in the first meeting of these two that Wichita State was able to stifle McDermott inside. He shot just 6-for-14 inside the arc in that one. Saturday, he was perfect.
Beyond covering McDermott though, the Shockers couldn't cover anyone. They went from allowing less than a point per possession in the first meeting to 1.38 in this one. What?! Creighton shot 70 percent from the floor. That isn't a typo. That is dominance. They could barely miss (as evidenced by Gibbs' prayer shot).
That is why the Jays had just two offensive rebounds. They didn't have many shots that didn't go in. They also won the battle of the boards in this one, something that has been difficult for them lately.
Creighton turned back into the team that we had been expecting to see carry through the season on Saturday, the one that began and dazzled the country with how well they had been playing.
If this is the Bluejays team that shows up for the rest of March, there are going to be some very surprised major conference foes on the losing end of some blitz attacks.
Gibbs (eight assists) and Chatman (six assists) each finished with 12 points for Creighton. Demetric Williams scored 18 to lead Wichita State.