MILWAUKEE — In their first season in the new-look Big East Conference, the Creighton Bluejays were picked to finish second behind defending league champion Marquette.
The Bluejays made an early statement, knocking off the Golden Eagles in their Big East debut — a 67-49 thumping in Omaha on New Year’s Eve.
On Wednesday, No. 11 Creighton moved one step closer to the Big East championship, finishing off the season sweep of Marquette with an 85-70 victory at BMO Harris Bradley Center.
“Their tradition of success speaks for itself,” Creighton coach Doug McDermott said. “We aspire to be what they have been in this league, so for us to get a couple of victories over them is great for our senior class.”
One of those seniors, forward Doug McDermott, led the way for Creighton (22-4, 12-2 Big East), scoring 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting with eight rebounds and three assists. Nineteen of those points came in the second half.
“I had to take what the defense gave me,” Doug McDermott said. “They were physical, making it tough for me. I thought I forced a couple early that were probably bad shots. Kind of just relaxed, and in the second half really just let the game come to me, and was able to get good shots.”
Coming out of halftime, McDermott scored 11 points in the first six minutes as Creighton stopped a 6-0 Marquette run to go ahead 53-41 when backup center Will Artino sank two free throws with 13:39 left.
“In the first half, I thought Doug was content with posting those guards at 15 feet and, as a result, their help was a little closer. So at halftime we talked about deeper post-ups against those guards,” Greg McDermott said. “The way the game was called, we told him to go down there and get in the fight because we thought we’d be able to get to the free-throw line as a result.”
Marquette came back and got within six on forward Jamil Wilson’s jumper with 8:07 left. Guard Todd Mayo made it a five-point game on a free throw with 7:27 left, but McDermott’s 3-pointer with seven minutes left made it 67-59, and the Bluejays were not threatened the rest of the way.
The loss snapped Marquette’s season-high three-game winning streak.
“There’s only been four successful (teams to beat Creighton) thus far,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. “They’re really talented offensively. They spread you out and put you in positions where you have to pick your poison. We tried a lot of different things and weren’t successful at many.”
Mayo led Marquette (15-11, 7-6) with 13 points, guard Deonte Burton added 11 and Jamil Wilson and guard Derrick Wilson scored 10 each.
The Golden Eagles were 2-for-11 on 3-point attempts, 20-for-36 from the line and shot 46 percent from the field.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well from 3; we didn’t shoot the ball well from the free-throw line.” Williams said. “You can’t win if you’re trading 3’s for 2’s, and that’s what happened tonight.”
Forward Ethan Wragge added 20 points for the Bluejays, who shot 62 percent and made 12 of 23 3-pointers.
“When (Wragge and McDermott) are on the same side of the floor, you have to make a choice,” Greg McDermott said. “You can get a little loose on Wragge and make Doug’s catch tougher, but if you do that Ethan’s probably going to get a look.
“We were able to find him several times in the first half. He’s an important part of our team. We’ve got a lot of other guys who can play but obviously a lot of what we do goes through Doug’s hands.”
Wragge knocked down four 3-pointers in the first half as the Bluejays shot 65 percent and took a 42-35 lead into halftime.
The Golden Eagles shot 42 percent in the half but missed 7 of 17 free throws attempts and were 1 of 7 from beyond the arc.
NOTES: Bluejays F Doug McDermott began the day leading the nation in scoring at 25.9 points per game, and his 25 points Wednesday gave him 2,888 for his career, putting him 11th on the Division I career scoring list. … Marquette and Creighton met 42 times between 1950 and 1988 but, before
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