Creighton Proves to Be More Than a 1-Man Team with Big Win over Villanova

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2014

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 20: Forward Doug McDermott #3, guard Austin Chatman #1, and forward Ethan Wragge #34 react after a timeout was called against the Villanova Wildcats on January 20, 2014 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennslyvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

For those of you who thought the Creighton Bluejays were a one-man team led by Doug McDermott, you were proven 100 percent wrong by his supporting cast on Monday night. 

Led by an absolute assault from beyond the arc by Ethan Wragge, Creighton defeated No. 4 Villanova in Philadelphia, 96-68. 

The win was a statement by the Bluejays that they are not only the best team in the Big East Conference, but also a multidimensional squad that can punch you in the gut from every angle of the court. 

Wragge came into the game known for his three-point shooting and exited it as a legend in the Creighton record books. 

The senior made his first seven shots from downtown and ended 9-of-14 from three-point range, and he failed to attempt a single two-pointer all night long. 

In the process of deflating the morale of the fourth-ranked Wildcats, Wragge tied a school record for most threes in a single game, a record that is held by Kyle Korver, who made plenty of threes on the same court at the Wells Fargo Center for the Philadelphia 76ers.

While Wragge got the party started in a major way in the first half, it was McDermott and Jahenns Manigat who continued the streaky shooting when the big man cooled off a bit. 

If there is such a thing as a quiet 23-point performance, McDermott had that, as he let his teammates bask in the spotlight while he continued to make buckets. In the process of scoring those 23 points, McDermott passed David Robinson for 23rd place on the all-time college scoring list. 

Manigat came out of nowhere to net 19 points for the Bluejays, 12 of which came from three-point range, as the Bluejays set the Big East Conference record for most threes in a single game. 

The three-point shooting success of Creighton will be the headline from Monday's monster victory, but the Bluejays also did the little things right as well. 

After they were well ahead in the game, the Bluejays continued to make the extra pass on offense to the open shooters, which was the opposite of what Villanova did, as the hosts chucked up early shot after early shot during their unsuccessful comeback attempt. 

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 20: Forward Ethan Wragge #34 of the Creighton Bluejays reacts after a made basket against the Villanova Wildcats on January 20, 2014 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennslyvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

If you dig even deeper into the game, you will notice small, but noteworthy contributions from the bench players as well. 

During the middle of the first half when Wragge went to the bench, it was Isaiah Zierden who hit two threes in a 90-second span to keep the momentum going for the Bluejays. 

The Bluejays also showed plenty of resilience as they weathered a late Villanova run in the first half that cut the lead to 13 points. 

Led by a strong group of seniors, something that is rarely seen in today's collegiate game, the Bluejays bounced back in a magnificent way and made sure the game was over by the halfway point of the second half. 

As if this performance was not enough to get you excited about the potential of Creighton in March, they were playing without sixth-year senior Grant Gibbs, who is out four to six weeks with a dislocated kneecap.

Creighton should get Gibbs back right in time for the final push toward the NCAA men's basketball tournament, and he brings another dimension to the court as a skilled distributor, something that the team will need as the competition heats up.

If Gibbs can return and deliver the performances he is capable of on the court, this Creighton team could become even more deadly than it was against Villanova.

Gibbs may not produce much in the points department, but he brings a set of intangibles to the court that any team would love to have. 

Adding Gibbs to the product we saw on Monday night in Philadelphia could make the Bluejays a team that no one wants to play when it matters most in March.


Joe Tansey writes a weekly piece on the Big East for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90.