The Creighton Bluejays simply had to put Thanksgiving Weekend behind them as they entered the month of December. Their meeting with the Long Beach State 49ers gave them an opportunity to do just that. The 49ers had been struggling as of late, losing seven in a row going into Tuesday evening's matchup at Walter Pyramid. Creighton came in three games above .500, but were feeling the ripple effects of a disappointing 1-2 record in the Wooden Legacy Tournament. Facing a team in the 49ers gave Creighton a chance to reboot against a team that is still trying to pick up the pieces.
On Tuesday evening, in front of a crowd of 3,481 in Long Beach, Calif., the Bluejays did that and more.
Thanks to a dynamite performance from the perimeter, and All-American Doug McDermott leading the way with 21 points, the Creighton Bluejays ensured themselves a comfortable victory over the Long Beach St. 49ers, winning by the score of 78-61. The win moved Creighton to 6-2, and kept Long Beach St. reeling at 1-8.
Coming off of the worst game of his season, Doug McDermott needed to get the Bluejays and himself energized enough to continue on towards a victory. He did just that, despite struggling from the floor in the get-go. McDermott finished 5-for-11 from the field, not his usual efficient self, but still scored a game-high 21 points. McDermott can thank his aggressiveness and Long Beach State's willingness to send him to the free throw line for that. When the senior from Ames, Ia. was at the line, he made his adversaries pay. McDermott finished 9-of-9 from the stripe, on a night where the Bluejays shot an impressive 80 percent on their free throws (20-25 FT).
But the story of the night was largely Creighton's performance from the 3-point line. In the first half, Creighton shot a staggering 58.8 percent (10-17 3 PT FG) from the 3-point line and finished the game with 51.9 percent of 3-point shots made (14-27 3 PT FG). Six Creighton players scored at least one 3-pointer, with Ethan Wragge leading the way with five made.
Wragge, the senior forward, was a late addition to the starting lineup. Wragge was placed into the lineup to fill the void of the struggling Will Artino, who found himself on the bench to start the game for the first time in this young season. Wragge made the most of his chance, netting 15 points on those five made 3-pointers, and came away with two rebounds and an assist in 27 minutes played.
Despite coming off the bench, sophomore center Will Artino showed perhaps he was beginning to turn the corner after going through a slump. Artino contributed 13 points on 71.4 percent shooting from the field (5-7 FG). Artino still did show some struggles in the rebounding department, picking up three rebounds, but to his defense, they were offensive, and did give Creighton some additional chances in the offensive zone.
Creighton took advantage of those second chance points, winning in that department over Long Beach St. to the tune of 10-6. The Bluejays blasted the 49ers in the bench points department, earning a victory in that tally 37-15. That was due in large part to the performances of Artino as well as Devin Brooks, Avery Dingman, and Isaiah Zierden. That trio scored six, five, and 12 respectively, with Zierden outpacing the rest, scoring 12 points on four made 3-pointers (4-6 3 PT FG).
One area where the Bluejays struggled against the 49ers was in the paint, as Creighton allowed 28 points in that area to Long Beach State. Forwards David Samuels and Dan Jennings had four points and 10 points scored respectively, and Michael Caffey scored 11 points. A.J. Spencer led all 49ers scorers with 13 points but did not play at an efficient level. This was the story all evening for the 49ers, as they finished the game shooting 38.5 percent from the floor (20-52 FG).
Overall though, this was exactly what the doctor ordered for Creighton. They now ill head home to Omaha for an in-state showdown against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. That game will tip off on Sunday, Nov. 8 at 6:00 PM ET and will be televised on FOX Sports 1.
|Doug McDermott||A-||A very good night for Mr. McDermott. The inefficiency docks him a bit and he could have contributed slightly more on the rebounding side of the ball, but a perfect night of free throws and 20+ points is good for a very high mark.|
|Ethan Wragge||A||A stellar performance for Wragge in his first night as a starter this season. This could become a trend, and the sharpshooting senior has been superb this season from deep. When he's on, this Bluejays team is dangerous.|
|Austin Chatman||C+||He contributed zero in terms of points, but Austin Chatman got on the stat sheet in other areas as well. Chatman collected six rebounds, five of them defensive, and dished out four assists to his fellow teammates.|
|Grant Gibbs||C||A disappointing night that ended early thanks in large part to an injury sustained in the 1st half. For the Bluejays' sake, this injury does not become a serious issue, because Gibbs was just beginning to turn the corner on this season.|
|Jahenns Manigat||C||Manigat had a bit of a difficult night offensively, but played well enough on the other side of the coin to warrant 22 minutes played in the game. He picked up two assists and as one of Creighton's primary ball handlers and distributors, did not turn the ball over once.|
|Devin Brooks||B-||Bounce back performance for the JUCO transfer after a tough two game stretch. Brooks was a playmaker offensively, with three assists and seven rebounds to go with his six points.|
|Isaiah Zierden||A||A superb night for Zierden, his best performance of the 2013 season. The redshirt freshman from the state of Minnesota knocked down four 3-pointers to get into double figures.|
|Avery Dingman||B||The bench contributions were not just limited to Zierden, Brooks and Artino. No, Avery Dingman also added to the barrage. The junior from Branson, Mo. scored five points and added three rebounds and three assists.|
|Will Artino||B-||Coming off the bench, Will Artino was far from demoralized. He added 13 points and was 5-for-7 from the field on an impressive night offensively. Despite that, though, he still could not contribute defensively, with zero defensive rebounds, no blocks and did not do much to stop Long Beach St. from scoring in the paint. But, this was a huge improvement offensively for him, and worthy of recognition.|
|Zach Hanson||C-||Tough to grade when you play just nine minutes and score no points, but Hanson picked up four rebounds, all defensive. So, his night was not unnoticed.|
|Geoffrey Groselle||C-||He played in the opening minutes of the game, and Geoffrey Groselle had a decent go-around in just four minutes of basketball. But, he did pick up three personal fouls in those four minutes, and picked up just one rebound.|
|Mogboluwaga Oginni||I||Tough to grade when you play two minutes in the game, when the game was coming down to the conclusion.|
|Alex Olsen||I||See what was said about Oginni.|
|Greg McDermott||A-||An excellent coaching maneuver to have Wragge start. A good dispersion of rotations from the bench to keep the Creighton offense moving. A banner night for Greg, although something could have been done defensively to stop so many points scored in the paint. Other than that, a job well done.|