No. 15 Creighton 77, Drake 69
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP)
Creighton carries itself with a quiet confidence wherever it goes, allowing the Bluejays to handle road games like few other teams in the country.
Of course, having Doug McDermott to lean on would give any team a little extra swagger.
McDermott scored 30 points and No. 15 Creighton held off Drake 77-69 on Wednesday night for its sixth straight road win.
Jahenns Manigat added 15 for the Bluejays (19-2, 9-1 MVC), who have the program's longest road winning streak in 37 years.
''It's not arrogance. It's not cockiness. It's just a very strong belief in each other. They've got each other's back,'' Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. ''This is a confident group that really believes in each other and have worked extremely hard to put themselves in the position they're in.''
Creighton let a 15-point lead dwindle to two early in the second half against the Bulldogs. But McDermott helped keep them from getting any closer, scoring 10 straight points late in the half.
Rayvonte Rice had 23 points and 11 rebounds to lead Drake (12-9, 5-5), getting his seventh 20-point game of the season. But the Bulldogs were outrebounded 37-25 and went just 4 of 18 from 3-point range.
''You need to be operating on all cylinders and do a few more right things to beat a team like Creighton right now,'' Drake coach Mark Phelps said.
Creighton never trailed in the second half in winning its ninth straight overall.
Ben Simons finished with 18 points, including a 3 to get Drake within 67-62 with 3:42 left. But McDermott took advantage of a favorable defensive matchup and kept Drake at bay from the free throw line and inside the paint.
McDermott hit all seven of his free throws in the second half, and his final two with 52 seconds left ended Drake's hopes for a comeback.
''My teammates did a real good job of finding me there. I was getting good position on their guards actually because they were switching on me. I had to take advantage of that,'' McDermott said. ''Got to the free throw line. If they're going to do that, we've got to make them pay.''
Kurt Alexander scored 16 points for Drake, which has lost two straight after winning four in a row.
Drake fell behind 37-22 in the first half, relying on Rice and Simons for nearly all its scoring.
Rice and Simons helped the Bulldogs pull within 46-44 early in the season half. Rice was aggressive in attacking the basket during that run, which McDermott halted with a crucial 3-point play.
''We couldn't get that final push to tie it up,'' Simons said. ''We just needed that final push to get us over the top and unfortunately we couldn't get that.''
The Bluejays' defense stiffened from there and Manigat, given a second chance for a 3 from the same spot in the corner, made it to put Creighton up 56-46 with 9:27 left.
Manigat went 5 of 7 from 3-point range and put up his best scoring effort since the second game of the season against Chicago State.
''It's always fun to kind of hear the crowd go into a silence after you knock down a pretty big shot. I was pretty open and I felt pretty comfortable shooting those shots, so I just let it fly,'' Manigat said.
The Bulldogs entered play in the middle of the Valley pack as one of three teams at 5-4 in the league. But Drake had won 13 of its past 14 at home dating back to last season and four of its past five since early January.
The Bulldogs led just once in the first half - and that only served to wake up Creighton.
McDermott gave the Bluejays the lead back at 18-17 on a tough bank shot near the baseline. Manigat then banked in a 3, and Creighton reeled off 10 straight points to take early control.
McDermott warmed up as the half went along, making a 3 to help put the Bluejays ahead 37-22. McDermott had 13 at the break - one more than he had in both halves of Creighton's blowout of Indiana State last weekend - and Creighton led 37-26.
It was the second time this season that McDermott played in Des Moines - where he and North Carolina's Harrison Barnes led Ames High to back-to-back state titles - and it was his second stellar outing.
McDermott had 25 in a blowout of Iowa in November, and he was even better against the Bulldogs.
''I always like coming back to Iowa. This brings back a lot of memories,'' McDermott said. ''It feels good getting wins in Iowa.''