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McDermott's supporting cast key for 13-1 Creighton

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - All-American Doug McDermott is the undisputed star for Creighton. He's not a one-man show, though.

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The 16th-ranked Bluejays have used consummate team efforts to start 13-1 and win their first two Missouri Valley Conference games.

``Teams are going to take away different stuff,'' senior guard Grant Gibbs said. ``Luckily, we've got a lot of options.''

In Creighton's hard-earned 79-72 victory over Illinois State on Wednesday, the Redbirds did all they could to neutralize McDermott at the expense of leaving Gibbs unguarded. McDermott still scored 15 points, but he had only four at halftime.

Gibbs made the Redbirds pay, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the first half of one of his best games of the season. When Gibbs wasn't roaming free, Ethan Wragge was knocking down one of his six 3-pointers.

Indiana State (9-4), which has won its first two conference games for the first time in five seasons, visits the Bluejays on Saturday. Who knows how they'll defend McDermott?

The junior started the week as the nation's third-leading scorer (23.5 ppg). But if he has difficulty getting going, chances are that Gregory Echenique, Wragge, Gibbs or someone else will pick up any slack.

``You have to give us something,'' coach Greg McDermott said.

More often than not, Doug McDermott is going to get his share of points. The coach's son scored 27 points or more in six games and has seen his reputation grow as one of the nation's most dangerous inside-outside threats, shooting 50 percent from 3-point range and 55 percent overall. He has drawn double- and triple-teams all season, providing his teammates with ample opportunities.

The Bluejays have continued to respond after having their rotation disrupted by the December departure of sixth man Josh Jones because of a heart condition. Echenique, the Bluejays' 6-foot-9, 260-pound enforcer, has elevated his game since a 13-point November loss to Boise State. He's averaging 12.5 points and 8.8 rebounds the past seven games, up from 9.6 and 6.6 the first seven.

Avery Dingman, who has taken most of Jones' minutes, is a combined 9 for 13 from beyond the arc the past three games. And Gibbs, who scored a combined four points and was 2 for 9 from the field in the two games before Illinois State contest, was 6 of 12 against the Redbirds and had seven assists and six rebounds.

``I've kind of got to pick my spots and look for open shots,'' Gibbs said. ``I can make the open ones, no doubt about that. There are a lot of advantages when people are going to play like that.''

Wragge broke out of a 3-for-21 slump on 3s to score all 18 of his points from beyond the arc. The game ended a stretch of seven games in which he hadn't scored in double figures. He's still shooting 44 percent on 3s for the season.

``There are a lot of things that keep me awake at night,'' coach McDermott said. ``His shooting isn't one of them. I think he's one of the best shooters in the country.''

AP NEWS
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The Associated Press
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