OMAHA, Neb. – The Northern Iowa tandem of Anthony James and Jake Koch wasn't enough to make up for the way 12th-ranked Creighton made 3-point specialist Marc Sonnen disappear.
James scored a season-high 25 points and Koch added 19 in the Panthers' 79-68 loss to the 12th-ranked Bluejays Tuesday night.
Sonnen, who made seven 3-pointers and matched his career high with 21 points against Bradley on Saturday, didn't score until the middle of the second half and finished with five points for the Panthers (9-9, 2-4 Missouri Valley Conference).
"They did a very good job limiting his touches," UNI coach Ben Jacobson said. "We knew that was going to be part of this game. They weren't going to allow Marc to catch and shoot. So we were going to have to find other ways to get some baskets."
Doug McDermott scored 21 of his 31 points in the second half as Creighton pulled away.
The Bluejays (17-1, 6-0) won their 11th straight game and are off to their best start in program history.
McDermott had his second straight 30-point game and fifth of the season. He came into the game off a season-best 39-point night against Missouri State last Friday.
McDermott scored 28 points in the second half against Missouri State, and he saved his best after the half again Tuesday after he and his teammates struggled early.
"He's a tough player," Koch said. "He does a wide range of things. He works hard for his points."
Austin Chatman, who finished with 12 points, made two straight 3s to get his team going. Grant Gibbs, who had 11 points, hit a shot from beyond the arc and then muscled his way into the lane for another basket to give the Bluejays the lead for good late in the first half.
The Bluejays didn't appear to have an answer for James and Koch. James slithered through the lane at will for a half-dozen layups, and Koch scored on strong moves to the hoop.
"I thought Jake played his best game in the four years he's been here," Jacobson said. "A.J. had a good game as well, but I thought Jake was terrific."
But Creighton chipped away with its inside-outside offense and used a couple runs to take control.
McDermott scored six straight points to extend the Bluejays' lead to double digits with 14 minutes left.
UNI came to Omaha off a 31-point win over Bradley Saturday, the Panthers' largest margin of victory over an MVC opponent.
Creighton made 11 of its last 16 shots of the half and erased a seven-point deficit to lead 37-32 at the break.
McDermott hit from the wing to open Tuesday's game but missed his next five shots. Jahenns Manigat drove through an open lane to tie it 18-all and finished an 11-4 spurt, and Gibbs' 3-pointer and short shot put Creighton up 25-22.
The Bluejays twice led by seven in the first half, on McDermott's left-handed scoop shot and again on Will Artino's putback. But James, who beat Creighton last February with a buzzer-beater in Cedar Falls, scored just before the clock hit zeroes to make it a five-point game at half.
"It's a really good win for us," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "I honestly believe before the dust settles that Northern Iowa is going to win a lot of games. There's too much experience there for it to not happen, in my opinion."