It was far from easy, but behind 26 points and five rebounds from Doug McDermott the Bluejays clawed their way to win number 20 on the season with a 68-63 victory over the beleaguered Butler Bulldogs.
McDermott's 26 points hummed right over the average for the superb senior forward, who today found himself being one of 30 players named the mid-season Naismith Award list. A go-ahead three-pointer with 50 seconds left in the game put Creighton ahead 64-63, and would be a lead that they would not relinquish.
The three-pointer was one of three shots that Doug made from downtown, and collectively, the Ames native shot 57.8 percent inside the historic Hinkle Fieldhouse on 19 attempts.
McDermott was not alone in stellar performances in Nap Town. Sophomore big man Will Artino recorded his first-ever double-double, notching 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Artino played 22 minutes, an increase since being pushed to the bench with the emergence of Ethan Wragge.
Much like his acceptance of that role, Artino took the ball and ran with it like a racecar at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
On the whole, Creighton shot 50.0 percent from the field on 48 attempts, 40.0 percent from the perimeter on 20 attempts, and 80.0 percent from the free throw line on 15 attempts.
As good of a shooting night that the Bluejays had, conversely, they had as poor a night rebounding. While they grabbed 30 rebounds, that number was edged by the Bulldogs, who hounded their adversary for 32 of their own. Additionally, Creighton's struggles in the offensive rebounding department reared their ugly heads again.
This time around the Bluejays were outpaced 14-8, and came away with an OR% of just 26.6 percent to Butler's 43.75 percent.
Unfortunately for Butler, they could not capitalize on that edge. They might have picked up 16 points from Kellen Dunham, a surprising 13 points from Alex Barlow, and 10 points from Andrew Chrabascz. But, they simply fell victim to what has driven them to this point in the season: inefficiency.
In what has been the story so far in the 2013-14 campaign, Butler shot 38.6 percent from the field, going 22-57 on their field goal attempts. And that includes a very impressive effort from deep, 9-20 on three-point attempts. That mark bested Creighton's, and that's no small task given that Doug McDermott & Co. are fourth in the nation in 3 PT FG%.
The five-point loss moves Butler to 3-6 in games decided by six points or less this season. It is clear that the Bulldogs are not getting the bounces to put them on the right side of the coin. With that said, with any luck, they might see their fortunes change next season and beyond.
At 12-13 and 2-11 in BIG EAST play, Butler shall continue looking for answers as they continue to suffer heartbreaks in life after Brad Stevens.
But for Creighton, this was a big win. Although a win versus Butler is nothing to write home about in the 2013-14 season, the Bluejays simply had to pick up this win with Villanova steadfast approaching.
And perhaps more importantly, with this test at Hinkle out of the way, Greg McDermott and his club can continue to keep their nose to the grindstone as they attempt to win the BIG EAST Conference in their first season as a member.