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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Doug McDermott stopped Missouri State's recent surge almost by himself.
The All-America forward scored a season-high 39 points, including all 18 for Creighton in the first 7:12 of the second half, and the 13th-ranked Bluejays beat Missouri State 74-52 on Friday night.
"That's why he's one of the best players in the country. That's why he's a future NBA player," Bears coach Paul Lusk said.
It was a tough setback for Missouri State, which had won three of four after a 2-10 start this season.
McDermott, the reigning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, was perfect on his first 10 field goal attempts in the second half as he sent the Bluejays (16-1, 5-0) to their 10th consecutive win. He outscored Missouri State 18-5 over the first 7:12 after halftime, hitting from the perimeter and bulling his way in the lane.
"He can hurt you inside and out," Missouri State swingman Keith Pickens said. "It was tough to guard him — a very good player. You just tip your hat to him."
McDermott finally missed from the field with about 5 minutes left and soon his night was done.
"I was just in a zone," he said. "My teammates saw that and they kind of kept giving me the ball."
McDermott shot 15 of 19 from the floor and 6 for 7 at the foul line. He also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds and went 3 of 4 from 3-point range. His 39 points were five more than he had against California last month and five shy of his career high set a year ago against Bradley.
"It was one of the better games I've ever played in my life," McDermott said.
Creighton led 32-27 after a sluggish first half in which Missouri State (5-12, 3-2) deliberately ran a slow, half-court offense and then took advantage when the Bluejays left an opening.
Pickens scored 11 points and Anthony Downing added 10 to lead the Bears, who shot 11 of 31 in the second half as Creighton turned to a triangle-and-2 defense and scuttled their surprising start to the conference season.
With McDermott leading the way, the Bluejays stifled Missouri State and benefited from the Bears' impatience. They were 3 of 15 on 3-pointers after halftime.
"I thought we had a pretty good first half and then I thought Creighton just picked it up a notch," Lusk said. "We didn't guard a couple of guys to start the second half, and it was a domino effect after that and then McDermott got going. He wore us out in every aspect."
Creighton struggled to establish a rhythm in the first half as Missouri State employed a defense that dared the Bluejays to hit 3-pointers while the Bears doubled 6-foot-9 Gregory Echenique.
Echenique, who averages almost 11 points and eight rebounds per game, had only one field goal in 10 minutes of first-half play.
"That was the focus of the game," Downing said. "Before we came out, Coach said that we needed to dictate the tempo of the game because if we got into a horse race with them, they'd end up scoring 90 on us."
The Bears got a nice lift from little-used reserve Tommie Aromora, who hit a pair of baskets, including a 3-pointer, as Missouri State stayed close throughout the first half.
But the Bears withered and clearly missed freshman guard Marcus Marshall, a starter who twisted his ankle in Tuesday's surprise win against Illinois State. Marshall, bothered by flulike symptoms in recent days, is Missouri State's second-leading scorer at 10. 1 points a game.
"They fought us that first half," said Creighton coach Greg McDermott, father of the team's star player. "We were able to get the rebounds, and Doug got on an unbelievable roll, one you don't see too often in college basketball. When that happens with him, we kind of give him the ball and get out of his way."
Jahenns Maniget had 11 points for the Bluejays, who shot 57 percent (27 of 47) for the game.