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NEW YORK – Doug McDermott had been thinking about playing in Madison Square Garden since it was announced last March that Creighton would be joining the Big East.
He has to hope his second trip to "The World's Most Famous Arena" goes a lot better.
The two-time All-America matched his nation-leading average of 25 points but didn't get off a shot over the final 8:40 of the 12th-ranked Bluejays' 70-65 loss to St. John's on Sunday night.
"It's really going to motivate us," McDermott said of the trip to the Garden. "This is the first time for a lot of us out here in this building, so the emotion was high to start the game. We were really excited and it kind of went away from that a little bit. So we've got to continue to play 40 minutes and not get caught in the crowd or any of that stuff."
Creighton coach Greg McDermott, Doug's father, called getting to play in the Garden "a huge bonus."
"Being able to get in here this morning for a shootaround, I think took away the awe moment of walking in here for the first time, which I think was important," he said. "So we'll have a comfort level next time. I hope we shoot a little bit better the next time we're in this building."
That will come next month in the Big East tournament.
Without the nation's leading scorer to turn to down the stretch Sunday, the Bluejays struggled offensively and the Red Storm came up with their sixth win in seven games. The only loss during that span came at Creighton two weeks ago when McDermott scored 39 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds to play, in a 63-60 victory.
"McDermott beat us last time," St. John's swingman Sir'Dominic Pointer said. "Let someone else try and beat us this time."
Nobody else stepped up for Creighton, but D'Angelo Harrison scored 19 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:08 to play, for St. John's (15-9, 5-6 Big East).
"The game was still in hand and we got a big shot from a big player," Pointer said before changing his description slightly. "We got a great shot from a great player."
The Bluejays (19-4, 9-2) had won 14 of 15 and were tied for first place in the conference with Villanova.
"They did a great job of taking me away," Doug McDermott said. "I thought they did a great job of switching whenever I came off screens. They were really disciplined a lot more down the stretch, so you've got to give them credit."
The Bluejays led the first meeting by 18 points with 12 minutes to play and were barely able to escape.
This time, the Red Storm stayed in front or at least close during the second half and Harrison put them ahead for good with a 3 that gave St. John's a 65-63 lead.
Harrison made five free throws in the final 19 seconds to offset a drive by Devin Brooks.
"D'Angelo relishes having the ball in his hands at crunch time," said St. John's coach Steve Lavin, who got his 200th win in 11 seasons as a head coach — seven at UCLA and the last four with the Red Storm.
St. John's started 0-5 in the Big East, and things were dire to say the least.
"I knew we would struggle but I didn't think we'd start 0-5 in the league — maybe 2-3," Lavin said. "I have always thought we could keep getting better. ... Another hurdle cleared that shows this team is maturing."
The Red Storm did a tremendous job on defense. They held the Bluejays, who came in leading the league in scoring (81.2), field goal percentage (49.2) and 3-point percentage (42.8), to 41.1 percent from the field (23 of 56) and 22.7 percent from 3-point range (5 of 22).
Creighton hurt itself at the free throw line by making just 14 of 25 (56 percent), well below the 75.9 percent mark it had coming into the game.
"Obviously, some of that credit goes to St. John's," Greg McDermott said. "Their length certainly impacts your ability to shoot the basketball and get clean looks at the basket."
Doug McDermott made his first four shots from the field, but the Red Storm didn't allow him many looks from outside the 3-point line. Instead, he was down low calling for the ball almost all game.
"I've got to be a little more aggressive, too," he said. "I think I kind of went away from what I was doing to start the game and I've got to recognize that. That's when we're successful is when I'm moving without the basketball."
After Creighton went on an 8-0 run to take a 47-46 lead with 13:45 to play, neither team led by more than three until the final 20 seconds. There were seven lead changes and five ties in that span.