OMAHA, Neb. — Doug McDermott scored 14 of his 29 points in a 6 1/2-minute stretch of the second half when No. 16 Creighton pulled away from Evansville for an 87-70 victory on Saturday night.
Gregory Echenique had 13 points and 13 rebounds, Jahenns Manigat added 13 points, and Avery Dingman had 11 for the Bluejays (12-1), who won their Missouri Valley Conference opener.
McDermott, the Bluejays' returning All-American, also had 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
Colt Ryan, who scored an arena-record 43 points in his last visit, matched his season high with 25 for the Purple Aces (7-6, 0-1). Troy Taylor added 10 for Evansville, which has lost 14 straight in Omaha since 1999. Taylor also had 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his first triple-double.
Evansville cut a 17-point deficit to seven early in the second half. McDermott wasn't much of a factor as he went scoreless during a span of 10:32 over the halves.
McDermott suddenly got going again, and the Bluejays built another cushion. His putback of Grant Gibbs' missed jumper and his three-point play stretched the lead to 59-46 and started his flurry of 14 points in 6 1/2 minutes.
Ethan Wragge's 3-pointer and another jumper by McDermott made it a 19-point game with under 12 minutes left.
Creighton didn't show much rust in its first game in 10 days. For the third straight game, the Bluejays never trailed. They held a 43-27 rebounding advantage against the undersized Aces.
Evansville, which hadn't played in a week, started 5 of 20 from the field and fell behind by double digits less than 6 minutes in.
The Bluejays broke the game open with an 11-0 run that Manigat finished with a dazzling drive to the hoop.
Evansville had trouble getting Ryan touches early as Manigat, Gibbs and Dingman took turns defending him. Ryan, who scored 25 in a loss at Butler on Dec. 22, missed four of his first five shots but warmed up the last 5 minutes of the half to help the Aces get the deficit down to 11 at the break.
Evansville got it to 45-38 on Ryan's jumper in the lane and Taylor's layup off a steal early in the second half.
Chatman's 3-pointer restored the double-digit lead, but just briefly. Ryan hit a jumper from the wing, and there was a sense in the sellout crowd of 18,458 – Creighton's second-largest ever – that the Aces weren't going to go away.
But there wasn't much they could do once McDermott found his rhythm, and the Bluejays went on to their sixth straight win.
The victory bodes well for Valley favorite Creighton. Since the 1993-94 season, only once has a team won or shared the conference's regular-season championship without winning its league opener.