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McDermott leads Creighton past Cincinnati (despite flagrant foul)

PHILADELPHIA -- Creighton is a brilliant offensive basketball team, one that shoots 56.4 percent from inside the arc, 42.1 percent from outside the arc and owns an effective field-goal percentage of 59.1, which ranks first nationally.

Cincinnati isn't good at any of those things.

But the Bearcats are pretty great defensively.

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So Friday's second Round of 64 game here at the Wells Fargo Center was a contrast in approaches, a contest between two teams with different goals. To the surprise of nobody, it was close in the final minutes. But one of the teams had Doug McDermott, and the other didn't, and that's ultimately what determined the outcome.

Final: Creighton 67, Cincinnati 63.

McDermott finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds and ... one flagrant foul. Yes, one flagrant foul. Boy, was that flagrant almost costly. The Bluejays were up 60-54 and reduced to fouling in the final minute when the ball was inbounded to McDermott, who was trapped by two players. He swung his elbows. He made contact with an opponent's face. The officials called it a "Flagrant 1," meaning two shots and the ball for Cincinnati.

And it was the right call.

Let me make sure I'm clear about that.

The rules are the rules, and, according to the rules, the officials made the right call. Even McDermott admitted as much. ("You gotta make that call," he said.) But when the right call is a bad call that could've changed the outcome of an important game then it's time to address whether the rule should be changed. McDermott wasn't trying to hurt anybody. He was just playing. The contact was inadverdant. But he was called for a flagrant foul anyway, and rightfully so. So, yeah, let's change this rule, as soon as possible.

"I'm not sure the outcome of the rule is what the intent was when we voted it in," said McDermott's coach and father, Greg McDermott. "We, as coaches, wanted to make sure that flagrant fouls that had intent and were deliberate would be called. But that's not the way the rulebook reads. So the referees did exactly what they were supposed to do. But it would've been sad if the game would've been decided on that play."

Thankfully, it wasn't because Shaquille Thomas missed both free throws. He later missed a 3-pointer that would've tied the score with 8.2 seconds remaining. So Cincinnati shot 42.2 percent from the field, 25.0 percent from 3-point range and 44.4 percent from the free-throw line -- and lost. The Bearcats just couldn't get the ball to go in when they needed it to, which was sort of their issue most of this season, you know?

"Doug McDermott is a great player, and I don't think Gregory [Echenique] gets enough credit," said Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin. "We play in the Big East so we see real players all the time, and he can play anywhere for anybody. I thought he was the difference. He and [Ethan] Wragge made shots, were the difference. Doug is going to do what he's going to do. You're not going to stop him from doing it. I don't care who he plays against."

McDermott plays against Duke next.

That should be fun, right?

The CBSSports.com First Team All-American brightened up when the attention turned toward Sunday's Round of 32 showdown with the Blue Devils, whose staff of Mike Krzyzewski and and Steve Wojciechowski came to McDermott's high school several times to recruit but never to actually recruit him.

"They came for Harrison," McDermott said in reference to his prep teammate, Harrison Barnes, who ultimately played at North Carolina and is now in the NBA. "I saw Coach K my sophomore year of high school. I was real starstruck. He pulled up in like a limo with Wojo, and it's kind of cool that I'm going to get a chance to play against him now."

So, no, Coach K never recruited McDermott.

And he shouldn't have, honestly.

Even McDermott admitted that, too.

"I felt [back then] like I was a mid-major player," he said.

But McDermott is not a mid-major player anymore.

He's a dominant star.

One who might make Duke pay for that misevaluation come Sunday.

 
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