In front of the 17,740 fans -- the largest November crowd in school history -- the Creighton Bluejays opened the 2013-14 campaign with a convincing 107-61 rout of Alcorn State.
The Bluejays scored at least 50 points in both halves, and were lead by Doug McDermott, who led all scorers with 20 points.
On the night, the Jays saw 12 of the 14 active players score, with five players in double figures. After McDermott, Devin Brooks and Ethan Wragge contributed 15 points apiece, and Jahenns Manigat added 13, while Will Artino contributed 12.
In addition to his 15 points, Brooks also tied Austin Chatman and Grant Gibbs with the team-high five assists. While the Bluejays shooters may have a pretty good idea when Chatman and Gibbs passes are headed their way, the same can’t yet be said for Brooks.
“You just need to be ready and have your hands in the right position, because he’s going to find you whether you’re ready or not,” said Wragge.
Brooks did well finding ready teammates. He committed only one turnover compared to his five assists. The key for him will be to continue to play under control against more talented teams.
“I’m going to age in the two years that I’ll get to watch him play for us,” said the Jays’ coach of Brooks. “He’s got a lot of energy, but for him, it’s about when to take the chance and when not to. (I) felt he gave us a good 16 minutes tonight.”
As a team, the Bluejays finished with 25 assists to just six turnovers, an impressive feat against any opponent. That statistic appears to be a byproduct of the team’s unselfish approach to the game.
“It’s our culture to turn down good shots in order to get great shots,” Coach McDermott said. “We got everyone involved I thought. Plus we shot better in the second half.”
With 9:32 remaining in the opening half, CU trailed 23-22 before a 16-0 run put Creighton up 38-23. McDermott started the run with two free throws, and Brooks ended it with a pair from the line. Much like last Friday's exhibition win against Northern State, CU put the overmatched squad away with a big run.
“We got stops. Second game, including the exhibition, that we were able to get separation by going on a run,” said McDermott. “Part of the reason it took time to adjust was of the limited film we had on Alcorn, but once we started moving the ball, we found open looks in the paint which helped on the perimeter.”
After the run ended, the Bluejays did not look back. The Jays took a 52-36 lead to the locker room, following a corner three from Wragge, which was countered by Alcorn State’s Twann Oakley banking in a trey just before the buzzer.
When the teams returned for to the court for the second half, the Bluejays opened up a 25-4 run to make the score 77-40 after a Zach Hanson jumper with 10:28 left. With 2:29 remaining, Brooks put CU into triple digits from the charity stripe. The strong start to second half was fueled by an impressive defense performance.
“The first five minutes were critical as we locked in. We were helping each other out and our transition game was definitely helped out by the turnovers caused,” said Manigat.
The other Bluejays to score were Zach Hanson with 9 points, Austin Chatman added 6, Isaiah Zierden and Avery Dingman dropped 5 apiece, and Steven Ferrarini converted a three-point play, while Grant Gibbs and Mo Oginni each added a bucket.
The Jays set a school record with points in the opener. In addition, it was the ninth largest crowd at the CenturyLink Center. Prior to the game, Coach McDermott presented Doug with a plaque honoring him as the school’s all-time leading scorer, which happened on March 8 against Drake in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
Next up for Creighton is 7 p.m. game against UMKC at CenturyLink Center Omaha. For those unable to make it, the contest will be broadcasted on Fox Sports 1 with 1620 the Zone coverage beginning at 6 p.m..