In front of the seventh largest crowd in Creighton men's basketball history, the Bluejays persevered their way to a victory.
Doug McDermott's 33-point outburst, and a near perfect afternoon for Austin Chatman from the field helped pave the way for an 82-72 victory for the Bluejays over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane to improve to 4-0 in the 2013-14 season. t was Tulsa's fourth loss of the season, sending them reeling to an 0-4 start.
It was certainly not the prettiest of games. Right out of the gate, both teams started off cold. The shooting eventually would heat up however, as both teams shot over 50 percent by the half's end. The second half saw similar success for the Creighton Bluejays but the Tulsa Golden Hurricane's percentage plummeted past the 40 percent threshold. The Golden Hurricane shot just 36.1 percent in the final 20 minutes of the game, which could be attributed to their downfall in the contest.
Doug McDermott finished the game off strong, scoring 12 of the last Creighton 14 points, for a total of 33. With his 15 rebounds, he collected his 31st double-double of his collegiate career. However, he found himself in trouble in the first of the two halves. While he was able to net 12 points, his efficiency was troubling, shooting just 44.4 percent on nine attempts from the field.
The Bluejays had to lean on others to contribute,and Austin Chatman rose to the occasion.
In the first half, Chatman was nearly impeccable from the field. He scored 15 points in 18 minutes on seven attempts. He made all three of his attempts from beyond the 3-point arc, and Chatman did not just deliver in points. No, Chatman found his stride in other ways, racking up four assists and skying for three rebounds. Chatman finished off his night with 19 points in 36 minutes, shooting 77.7 percent on nine attempts, and shot 80 percent from the 3-point line. The junior guard from Texas made sure to give his team a chance to win.
If there were two things that Creighton found themselves struggling with in this game, one was free throw shooting, and another was a big surprise. Coming into this Saturday afternoon's matchup, Creighton had yet to be edged in points in the paint and rebounding. Tulsa nearly did both against the Bluejays. The Golden Hurricane bested Creighton 38-28 in the paint, in second chance points 10-6. Tulsa and Creighton were both dead even on the glass, with each team collecting 37 rebounds.
It was clear the bigs for the Bluejays were struggling, even with the height advantage weighing in their favor. Will Artino had eight points and six rebounds, but only played 14 minutes. Zach Hanson too played limited minutes, just seven, and only picked up two rebounds. Teams have their off nights from time to time, but this was somewhat troubling.
Free throw shooting was very much a struggle for Creighton on Sunday afternoon. As a team, the Bluejays shot a meager 53.6 percent from the free throw stripe. Coming into the night, the Bluejays were shooting 69 percent from the free throw line in their previous three outings. Senior Doug McDermott shot 12-of-15 from the free throw line, but all other Creighton shooters did not make more than one free throw on the night.
While they remain winless, Tulsa certainly gave Creighton a battle some were not expecting. At the forefront was sophomore guard Pat Swilling, Jr. Swilling, the son of his father of the same name, a former NFL linebacker and member of the famed "Dome Patrol," scored 18 points and shot 40 percent from the 3-point line. Rashad Smith, outlined as an X Factor in the preview, led all Tulsa scorers with 21 points and provided the necessary impact all around the floor to give Tulsa a chance to pick up their first victory of the season. In falling short, Smith and company still managed to keep things competitive against one of the top scoring teams in the nation.
The next time the Creighton Bluejays take the floor, it will be on Turkey Day. The Bluejays will be taking part in The Wooden Legacy Tournament in Fullerton, California. Their first round matchup is against the Arizona St. Sun Devils (5-0) on Thursday Nov. 28 at 10:00 PM ET, and will be televised on ESPN2.