Creighton, McDermott beat Cincinnati
by Jack Carey, USA TODAY Sports
PHILADELPHIA – With bodies flying, whistles shrieking and the crowd howling, seventh-seeded Creighton finally found a way to escape from 10th-seeded Cincinnati 67-63 Friday and moved into Sunday’s Midwest Regional third-round against Duke.
All-American forward Doug McDermott came through with 27 points and 11 rebounds for the Bluejays (28-7) and made all 11 of his free throws. But it was a late flagrant foul called against the Creighton star which almost helped the Bearcats (22-12) spring a mild upset.
BOX SCORE: Creighton 67, Cincinnati 63
With the Jays up 60-54, McDermott was called for a flagrant-1 foul with 53.1 seconds left for hitting Cincinnati’s Shaquille Thomas in the face when he swung his arms to try to escape the Bearcats’ press. Thomas missed both free throws, however, but Sean Kilpatrick nailed a three-pointer off the inbounds pass to make it 60-57 with 49.9 seconds left.
“I maybe was a little too high with the ball, just probably a call you’ve got to make in that situation,” said McDermott. “I was being aggressive, and they got me there. It’s too bad it happened, but our team found a way to fight through it.
“It was a really physical game. We knew coming in that it would be.”
Creighton, however, showed it could play that way, battling hard against one of the Big East’s most physical teams and outrebounding the Bearcats 32-31.
“I was scared to death of this game, just because the more I watched Cincinnati, the more I realized it probably wasn’t the best matchup for us because of their length and athletic ability,” said Jays coach Greg McDermott. “And I wasn’t sure we could rebound with them for 40 minutes. To our guys’ credit, they did.”
Center Gregory Echenique said the Bluejays relished the chance to prove their toughness.
“It always goes back to people questioning our toughness, but I honestly don’t think that’s true,” he said. “I think we can definitely play tough. We showed it before, and we just proved it again today.”