No. 22 Creighton beats NC State, 112-94

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) — Greg McDermott isn’t ready to think about No. 22 Creighton’s place in the national polls just yet.

“I’ll worry about that come March,” the Bluejays coach said.

Creighton is riding high, though, after beating N.C. State 112-94 on Sunday night to advance to the championship game of the Paradise Jam tournament.

Cole Huff had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and six other players finished in double figures for Creighton (4-0), which had its highest offensive output in a regulation game since scoring 115 points against Indiana State on Jan. 19, 1985.

“The polls don’t mean anything to me right now,” McDermott said. “They will in March, but not right now. We just have to continue to get better.

“I’m proud of the fact that coming off an emotional win like we had against (No. 9) Wisconsin, we’ve been able to put together two pretty good performances back to back. That’s a credit to this team.”

Khyri Thomas added 16 points and Marcus Foster had 15 among the seven Bluejays (4-0) in double figures. Creighton led by 24 at one point in the second half.

Terry Henderson scored 28 points and three other players finished in double figures for the Wolfpack (3-1), who battled to six ties and eight lead changes in the first half.

Dennis Smith Jr. added 21 points, Torin Dorn had 16 and Abdul-Malik Abu had 13 for N.C. State, which last led 47-46 with 2:43 remaining in the first half on Smith’s 3-pointer.

Creighton closed out the half with an 8-2 run for a 54-48 lead, then opened the second half with another 8-2 stretch for its first double-digit lead.

The Bluejays’ biggest lead, 24 points, came when Huff hit a pair of free throws with 5:17 remaining for a 103-79 lead.

“No. 1, they’re a really good team and they can score the ball,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “We had a hard time stopping them from scoring. I liked a lot of things we did — we scored 92 ourselves — but we just really couldn’t slow them down, much less stop them. That was the difference in the game.”

Maurice Watson Jr. scored 15 points for Creighton, Isaiah Zierden added 12, Zach Hanson had 11 and Justin Patton had 10.

BIG PICTURE
N.C. State: Henderson scored more than 20 points for the second time in four games this season after missing nearly all of 2015-16 with an ankle injury.

Creighton: The Bluejays are 4-0 for the fifth time in the past six seasons under McDermott. The only blemish on that run was a 3-1 start in 2015-2016.

STAT SHEET

N.C. State made a season-best 14 of 28 3-pointers and shot 45.6 percent from the field (31 of 68). But Creighton countered with a season-best 60.6 percent shooting (40 of 66) and made 13 of 27 3-pointers.

FOUL TIME

N.C. State and Creighton were whistled for 45 combined fouls, including a pair of technical fouls (on Foster and Patton) in the second half for excessive celebration. Beejay Anya fouled out for the Wolfpack, and six others (four for N.C. State, two for Creighton) finished with four fouls.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

With the Top 25 rankings coming out Monday morning, Creighton should head into that evening’s Paradise Jam championship game having moved up several spots following back-to-back 100-point games.

UP NEXT

N.C. State: Will play Saint Joseph’s in the tournament’s third-place game Monday.
Creighton: Will face Mississippi in the championship game Monday.

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