Creighton gives most impressive shooting showing of season at Nova

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Ethan Wragge(USATSI)
Ethan Wragge poured in 27 points in an impressive Blujays performance in Philly. (USATSI)

Had it not been such a blowout, such a comical, unreal display of offense that led to a 40-point deficit at one point, this could've been the best offensive performance of the season, statistically speaking.

Pragmatically speaking, it takes the crown, easily. Because Creighton just went into No. 4 Villanova, a road game mind you, and got out with a 96-68 win. It felt like a 50-point margin for most of the second half. The Bluejays actually fell out of the rankings this week -- boy did that prove to be a premature notion.

But just two days removed from an 81-68 loss at Providence, nobody thought this team was capable of this. The best offense in the country sure, but still, Villanova had a defense ranked in the top five coming in -- and it looked like an NAIA team, defensively, against Creighton.

Ethan Wragge tied a program record with nine 3-pointers and finished with 27 points. Player of the Year frontrunner Doug McDermott added another 23.

"One thing I don't lose sleep over is his ability to shoot the basketball," coach Greg McDermott said on TV afterward of Wragge's night, which included him sinking his first seven 3-pointers. By the end of the first half Creighton had a 54-41 lead and hit 14 of 22 from deep, a 63.6-percent clip.

"We don't care who's hot that night," Wragge said on TV afterward, adding "my mom, sitting over there in the stands, she's quite the shooter. So, she was a big influence on me there."

Really, it felt a disservice to the performance that Creighton didn't notch 100. Greg McDermott called off the dogs in the final eight minutes and dialed it back to second gear. If the team wanted to, it could've flirted with 120 points in regulation. The team hit 21 3-pointers, the most for any team in one game since 2010 and a new Big East record.

It's the Jays' first year as Big East resident.

This was the first time since 1970 -- a win against New Mexico State -- for Creighton to get a win against a team ranked in the top five. It's the first win over a No. 4-ranked team since 1963 (Arizona State).

It wasn't the first time Creighton had played in this building. Two seasons ago it was placed there in the NCAA tournament. How'd that go?

What a difference. This felt special and looked unlike any performance we've seen in some time in college basketball; the 1.45 points per possession ranks among the most impressive rates this season. One of those nights where all the right things are clicking. Aside from not exactly bursting to guard beyond 20 feet, Villanova didn't have a terrible night. There was just no shot the Wildcats were going to keep pace with this Jays team, which also got a career-high from Jahenns Manigat (19).

Creighton is now 6-1, Villanova 5-1 in the Big East.

 
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