INDIANAPOLIS — Forward Doug McDermott had 26 points and five rebounds to help the No. 18 Creighton Bluejays survive for a 68-63 victory over the Butler Bulldogs on Thursday night.
The All-American forward connected on a go-ahead 3-pointer from the top of the key that gave the Bluejays a 64-63 lead with 50 seconds remaining.
Guard Kellen Dunham, who led Butler with 16 points, missed a tough 3-pointer with 5 seconds left that would have tied it at 66. Instead, Creighton rebounded and point guard Austin Chatman made two free throws to close the scoring.
The Bluejays (20-4, 10-2 Big East) won 15 of their last 17 games and bounced back from a 70-65 loss at St. John’s on Sunday.
Butler (12-13, 2-11) continued its tailspin despite going 9-of-20 from 3-point range, securing 14 offensive rebounds and committing just six turnovers.
Point guard Alex Barlow had 13 points for Butler, which shot just 39 percent (22-of-57) from the field.
Creighton shot 50 percent from the floor (24-of-48) and received 11 points and 10 rebounds from backup center Will Artino.
Chrabascz’s third 3-pointer of the season tied the game at 61 with four minutes to go, but Creighton’s defense locked down from there and secured another victory in a season full of them.
In the teams’ first meeting Jan. 14, won 88-60 by Creighton, the Bulldogs were completely overwhelmed, allowing McDermott and Co. to shoot 56 percent.
Early on, it appeared Creighton was on its way to a repeat, riding 12 points from McDermott to a 17-7 lead with 11:28 left in the first half.
However, the Bulldogs dug in and righted the ship by getting their guards open behind the 3-point arc. Two treys from Dunham and another from Barlow fueled a 15-6 surge by Butler that awakened the crowd and put the Bulldogs ahead for the first time, 27-26.
Butler led on two other occasions before halftime, but the Bluejays scored nine points on their final six possessions before the break to lead 37-34 after what became a highly competitive and entertaining first half.
Creighton had nine assists on 14 field goals in the first half, and it got 15 points from its bench, including 10 from Artino. Butler countered with 5-of-10 3-point shooting before intermission.
NOTES: Creighton last played at Hinkle Fieldhouse in 1974. … Bluejays F Doug McDermott passed Kevin Bradshaw for 15th place on the NCAA career scoring list with a 3-pointer early in the first half. McDermott entered Thursday with 2,798 points. … Butler allowed 20 points in the paint in the first half. … The Bulldogs have two home games remaining: Feb. 23 against Providence and March 8 against Seton Hall.
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