New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Doug McDermott put on a show at Madison Square Garden in Creighton's Big East Tournament debut, pouring in 35 points as the 14th-ranked Bluejays rolled to an 84-62 quarterfinal victory over DePaul.
McDermott led a shooting clinic by Creighton from the perimeter, draining 7- of-10 attempts from 3-point range in his 32 minutes of time. The Bluejays finished a sizzling 14-of-22 as a team from beyond the arc, with Jahenns Manigat accounting for four of those makes in a 14-point effort.
"I think McDermott, once again, proves that in my opinion, he's the best player in the country," DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell remarked.
The win propels the second-seeded Bluejays (25-6), a first-year member of the realigned Big East, into Friday's semis against Xavier. The fourth-seeded Muskeeters held on for a 68-65 win over Marquette in Thursday's final quarterfinal.
DePaul (12-21), the tournament's 10th seed coming off an opening-round upset of Georgetown, was paced by Brandon Young's 22 points and eight rebounds.
The Blue Demons had no answer for McDermott as the unanimous Big East Player of the Year piled up 27 first-half points on a 10-of-14 shooting rate that included seven makes in nine tries from the beyond the arc.
"I was just feeling in the rhythm, in the zone, and I felt like I could make [any shot] out there," said McDermott. "They were doing a good job [on defense]. I just happened to get going, and my teammates recognized that I had the hot hand."
Manigat was on fire as well, knocking down 4-of-5 shots from 3-point distance to help Creighton build a commanding 49-29 lead at the break.
Three of Manigat's triples came in a span of less than two minutes early on, part of a 17-5 run that McDermott capped with a pair of threes that staked the Bluejays to a 20-8 advantage midway through the opening period.
DePaul managed to briefly close the gap, pulling within 25-18 following Jamee Crockett's layup and free throw just past the eight-minute mark, and it was an eight-point game with just over five minutes left in the half until the Bluejays started hitting shots at will once again.
Creighton scored on its next five possessions to increase the margin to 42-25, and another McDermott three with 1:07 remaining in the frame closed out a 16-4 tear that put the Bluejays up by a 47-27 count.
McDermott couldn't quite keep up his prolific pace after the intermission, enabling the Blue Demons to close the gap behind a 10-0 run early in the second half. Crockett was fouled while burying a 3-pointer with just under 15 minutes left and sank the ensuing bonus shot to cut DePaul's deficit to 54-41, and Young hit two free throws shortly afterward to trim the differential to 11 points.
DePaul trailed just 60-50 after Billy Garrett's basket with 9:30 to go, but Creighton answered with a 12-2 surge that all but put the game away. Austin Chatman and Ethan Wragge each had 3-pointers during the sealing spurt, which ended on McDermott's second-chance bucket that made the score 72-52 with under six minutes remaining.
"I would have liked to have seen us throw that knockout punch the first five minutes of the half," said Bluejays head coach Greg McDermott. "But to DePaul's credit, they didn't allow us to do that."