You didn’t actually think Doug McDermott would fall short, did you?
Midway through the second half of Creighton’s 88-73 win over Providence Saturday on senior night at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb., McDermott became the eighth player in Division I history to score 3,000 points when he buried a long jumper that would have counted for three points on a regulation NBA court. “I saw on the Jumbotron that I was two away,” McDermott said. “So I just gave it a shot, got a good look at it, and it happened to fall.”
It was clear early in the game that McDermott was on a mission. He scored 22 of Creighton’s first 45 points and shot 8-for-14 from the field in the first half. McDermott’s final bucket of the night was a layup with 2 minutes, eight seconds to go and he walked off the floor to a standing ovation at the 1:17 mark.
McDermott came into Saturday needing 34 points to reach 3K. He finished Saturday with a career-high 45 on 17-of-25 shooting, including 5-of-7 from three-point range. The Creighton senior now sits seventh on the Division I all-time scoring list with 3,009 points. He needs 51 to catch former Saint Peter’s great Keydren Clark in sixth place.
There are almost too many statistics with which one can quantify McDermott’s greatness. He is the top scoring option of an offense that’s on pace to average more points per possession than any other since at least 2002-03. He will become the first player in three decades to be named to the Associated Press All-American team in three consecutive seasons. He’s notched 22 30-point games over three-plus seasons.
However Creighton fares in the NCAA Tournament, college basketball fans will remember this Jays team first and foremost for McDermott’s ascension into the scoring pantheon.
On January 5, Oregon lost at then-No. 20 Colorado. It was the Ducks’ first loss of the season, and when one considered what came before – 13 consecutive wins – it didn’t seem like Oregon was in too much trouble. But that loss started a stretch in which the Ducks lost eight of 10 games, including five in a row between January 5 and January 23. After the Ducks fell 74-72 at Arizona State on February 8, what once seemed unthinkable was a very legitimate concern: would Oregon miss the NCAA Tournament?
The selection committee will have a hard time keeping the Ducks out of the field after they beat RPI No. 1 and AP No. 3 Arizona, 64-57, Saturday in Eugene.
No. 11 Louisville 81, No. 19 UConn 48: This was the last time Louisville and Connecticut will play each other in a regular season conference game. Even given the emotion of the occasion, it’s hard to explain the Huskies’ poor shooting performance to start this one. UConn went just 5-of-25 from the floor in the first half, and missed all eight of its three-point attempts.
It’s an overused phrase to say a team is lucky to be down only x points, but the Huskies must have had horseshoes in their pockets or something. This was their lowest scoring output in a half on the season, and to trail by just 12 seemed like a minor victory. That magic ran out in the second half as the Cards just kept adding to the lead. Russ Smith seemed content to dish it out rather than look for his own shot in this one, and he finished with 13 assists, making life easy for guys like Montrezl Harrell (20 points, 11 rebounds).
No. 1 Florida 84, No. 25 Kentucky 65: The Gators didn’t really need to make a statement or prove anything on Saturday, but they did anyway by jumping out to a 21-point halftime lead over Kentucky. Even with students on Spring Break, the O’Connell Center was still rocking as Florida showed the timing and precision of a well-made Swiss watch. Age and experience only serve to be indicators of reliability for the Gators, who haven’t lost since the beginning of December.
Contrast that with Kentucky, which is supremely talented but is still looking for answers. A big run in the second half got the game back in striking distance before Florida put its foot back down, but the inconsistency even within the course of a single game is troubling. While youth has served John Calipari well in the past, leaders aren’t just born or conjured. Sometimes it takes a wealth of experience — the type Florida and its veteran-heavy rotation has plenty of — and Kentucky just doesn’t have that. The Wildcats lost three out of four to end the regular season.
Harvard is the first team in the NCAA tournament field with a 70-58 win at Yale, but we already know that isn’t enough.
That is the testament to what Tommy Amaker has wrought.
It’s what the Crimson do with that, with a third straight outright Ivy League title and third straight NCAA bid.
A gleeful team gathered near the bench to soak in the moment with the fans that followed them to New Haven, Conn., on Friday night.
But Harvard didn’t linger long before Amaker demanded a full sprint to the locker room. There was more work to be done.