The best player in college basketball just took one of the worst possible endings to his brilliant college career.
Doug McDermott and Creighton were mowed down, annihilated, by a white-hot sixth-seeded Baylor team that hit 11 3-pointers en route to an 85-55 win in Sunday's Round of 32 out in San Antonio. It was the second-fewest points scored in a game this season for Creighton. McDermott, who finished with a team-high 15, failed to score more than 20 points for the first time in almost two months.
Baylor didn't play a better game all season. The Bears' athleticism, combined with perfectly timed perimeter shooting, ended the game just after it started. The Bears led 40-20 at the half and Creighton was entirely incapable of lowering the deficit in the final 20 minutes.
Creighton didn't play a worse game all season. The Bluejays suffered their worst defeat by far, doing it on the biggest stage and at the worst time. Facing a zone, Creighton simply couldn't hit the shots or find a spot near the rim to keep pace. The Jays were an aberrational 5-of-24 from 3-point range.
This loss means the Bluejays, still, have not made a Sweet 16 in the expanded tournament era. The No. 1 points-per-possession/efficiency offense in the country this season found itself out of sorts for the second time in three games. There were shades of this anemia in the Big East title game last Saturday, when Providence zoned the Jays out of the game entirely. Until Sunday, that loss to the Friars was the poorest showing of the season for McDermott and Co.
It looked avante garde compared to the stymie job Scott Drew's team put on Greg McDermott's in San Antonio.
It's a sad end to one of the best college careers we've seen in the past decade, maybe more. Doug McDermott leaves Creighton as fifth all time in Division I scoring. He set myriad school and NCAA records (like 135 games scoring in double figures) in getting to this point, and possibly played himself into the NBA lottery as well.
Creighton was a joy to watch most of this season. Its offense was slick and visually splendid.
McDermott walked off the floor in tears Sunday night. He'll leave the college game with 3,150 points. A clean number of sorts. The top five now reads like this.
|NCAA D-I Career Scoring Leaders|
|Freeman Williams||Portland State||1974-78||3,249|
|Lionel Simmons||La Salle||1986-90||3,217|
|Alphonso Ford||Miss. Valley State||1989-93||3,165|
|Harry Kelly||Texas Southern||1979-83||3,066|
|Keydren Clark||St. Peter's||2002-07||3,058|
But this senior class -- Grant Gibbs, Ethan Wragge and Jahenns Manigat, in addition to McDermott -- leaves with an unfulfilled dream. It was three straight NCAA Tournament appearances but also three two-and-dones.
McDermott is a near-guarantee to become the first three-time First Team All-American since Patrick Ewing and Wayman Tisdale. He's one of just only three men in NCAA history with 3,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. The only player to win league player-of-the-year awards in two leagues in D-I history.
It was a great career.
But it's a career that will have an unfortunate asterisk attached to it. Or a "yeah, but." Because he never made a Sweet 16, let alone a Final Four. McDermott made Creighton fun, but he never had a chance to move himself into all-time lore because the Bluejays could not break through and have a charmed March run.
Those things matter, fair or not. McDermott was so great to watch, but his reel will contain mostly fabulous highilghts that took place in Novembers, Decembers, Januarys and Februarys. Yeah, he dominated the MVC tourney when Creighton was running that league during his sophomore and junior years, but they were booted from the big tourney soon thereafter.
We'll remember a flood of moments and the idea of Doug McDermott more than any one or two specific images. That's OK, but it's because there are no March moments that it's the case.
We can appreciate McDermott's run while still framing it appropriately: Super career. One of the best. But because it lacked a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, we'll never be able to call McDermott's career complete. And it's a damn shame, because this team -- and McDermott -- were good enough and deserved a deeper tear into this bracket.
But that's March. It doesn't dictate legends, it just happens to decide them. Here's an all-time great, one big run shy of separating himself from any college basketball superstar of the past 15 years.