Published November 18, 2012
OMAHA, Neb. – Presbyterian was clearly overmatched in its 87-58 loss to No. 15 Creighton, but Jordan Downing's performance gave Blue Hose coach Gregg Nibert hope that better days are ahead.
Downing, who scored a combined 13 points in losses to Clemson and Georgia Tech, had a career-high 25 points against the Bluejays (3-0).
"I've been waiting on that," Nibert said.
Downing was a combined 5 of 25 from the field the first two games for the Blue Hose (0-3). The transfer from Davidson was 9 of 17 against Creighton, including 4 of 8 on 3-pointers.
"The boy can shoot the lights out," Nibert said. "But he wasn't taking good shots, not taking shots in rhythm, and tonight he showed some patience. He got some confidence, because when he does shoot, he's kind of like (Ethan) Wragge. When he lets it go, you think it's going in."
Creighton's Wragge scored 18 points, all coming on his career high-tying six 3-pointers. Four of his long shots came in the first half, three at the start of a 33-8 spurt that broke open the game.
Returning All-American Doug McDermott scored 20 of his 24 points in the first half, and Austin Chatman had a career-high 11 assists to go with his nine points for the Bluejays (3-0).
McDermott, held to five points against UAB on Wednesday, bounced back to make 7 of 9 shots and all eight of his free throws. He also had seven rebounds.
"I told our guys before the game that this is the best-coached, best offensive team that we've ever played against since we've been Division I," said Nibert, whose program began the transition to D-I in 2006. "They've got a complete team. There's no secret why they're 15th."
Presbyterian hung with the Bluejays for the first nine minutes. The Blue Hose tried to slow the tempo, and the Bluejays turned over the ball three times.
It was just a matter of time before Creighton took over against an opponent in its first season as a full-fledged Division I member and is picked last in its division in the Big South Conference.
Jahenns Manigat hit a 3-pointer and Wragge followed with three in a row from behind the arc to start a 33-8 run over the last 11 minutes of the half.
The Bluejays, up 43-17 at the break, led by as many as 35 points in the second half.
Creighton shot 62 percent from the field and made a season-high 12 3-pointers on 24 attempts.
Khalid Mutakabbir scored 12 points for the Blue Hose.
The game was part of the 12th annual Las Vegas Invitational. The Bluejays play Longwood Tuesday in Omaha before going to Vegas to play Wisconsin on Friday and either Arizona State or Arkansas State on Saturday. The Blue Hose go to Wisconsin on Tuesday and then play in Vegas against Cornell on Friday and either Florida A&M or Longwood on Saturday.