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Creighton rips Drake early and often

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Ethan Wragge and his Creighton teammates followed their game plan to perfection against struggling Drake.

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``We wanted to jump on them right away and not give them any reason to stick around,'' he said.

Wragge matched career highs with 22 points and six 3-pointers and the 13th-ranked Bluejays got off to a blistering start on their way to a 91-61 victory Tuesday night.

Creighton has won 71 straight games against opponents .500 or worse, and that streak was never in jeopardy.

The Bluejays, who made a season-high 16 3-pointers, led by 30 points in the first half and by 35 late in the second.

``Sometimes you have nights like this,'' Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. ``We shot the daylights out of the basketball to start the game in particular. We took a team that had been struggling some and threw the first punch. That was our goal coming into the game.''

Doug McDermott scored 16 points, Jahenns Manigat had 13 and Grant Gibbs 10 for the Bluejays (15-1, 4-0 Missouri Valley Conference), who won their ninth straight game.

Joey King scored 17 points and Jordan Clarke and Micah Mason had 11 apiece for Drake (6-9, 0-4).

``We clearly ran into a buzz-saw of a basketball team tonight,'' Bulldogs coach Mark Phelps said. ``The fast start really put us on our heels, and we could not obviously over the course of the game recover from that.''

Wragge, who had been averaging 9.0 points a game, went over 20 for the second time in three games. He missed only 3 of his 9 attempts from long range and is shooting 63 percent (15 of 24) on 3-pointers in three games since an injury to his right (shooting) arm caused him to struggle in December.

``I would say the last couple games I've gotten my feel back,'' Wragge said. ``I'm confident, my arm feels good and guys are doing a good job finding me in stride and not making me get out of rhythm with a pass at my feet.''

Doug McDermott made his first six shots, scored 14 points in the first 11 minutes and took only two more shots. He added three assists and a team-high seven rebounds.

Austin Chatman had nine assists, and the Bluejays finished with a season-best 28 on 34 field goals.

``It's really easy to play with a group like this,'' Manigat said. ``Guys really don't care what their individual numbers are going to look like at the end of the day. They just want to make sure we're up at the end of the game.''

Creighton's fast start kept the crowd of 18,073, the program's fourth-largest ever, subdued for most of the night.

The Bluejays came in leading the country with 9.5 3-pointers a game. They had nine on 12 attempts in the first 15 minutes.

Their first 19 possessions produced 39 points. Gibbs, McDermott, Manigat, Wragge and Avery Dingman each made one in the opening 7 minutes to help the Bluejays break out to a 25-4 lead.

Wragge's third 3-pointer made it a 30-point game with 6 minutes left in the half, and it was 49-25 at halftime.

Drake, shooting just under 25 percent from 3-point range in its previous three games, started 1 for 10 from beyond the arc and finished 9 of 28. The Bulldogs shot 28 percent in the first half and 36 percent for the game.

The Bulldogs went to a 2-3 zone in the second half, but that didn't do much to slow the Bluejays. Creighton shot 68 percent in the first half, 64 percent for the game and outrebounded Drake 40-22.

Wragge, the 3-point specialist, showed some rare inside moves. He cut to the hoop to take entry passes from McDermott for only his third and fourth 2-point field goals of the season.

``He did a really good job finding the points in the zone where they weren't,'' Wragge said. ``He gave me layups there. That was nice of him.''

Greg McDermott was able to give minutes to all 15 of his players, and 12 of them scored.

``If you want to win a championship, you have to take care of your home court,'' he said. ``We were able to take a team tonight that likes to play at a fast pace and use that against them. I thought our opportunities in transition were better than the ones they were able to get. As a result, you take the wind out of their sails when you're able to do that.''

AP NEWS
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The Associated Press
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