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Creighton edges Alabama behind strong second half

Mar 17, 2012 - 12:17 AM Greensboro, NC (Sports Network) - Doug McDermott scored 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as Creighton used a huge second-half run to hold off Alabama, 58-57, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

After Josh Jones missed two critical free throws for Creighton (29-5) with eight seconds left, Alabama (21-12) trailed by just one.

Trevor Releford, who had 14 points to lead the Crimson Tide, had a chance to win it at the buzzer with a long three-pointer at the top of the arc. But his shot was blocked by Jones.

"Coach drew up a good play, but they packed it in on the inside and we were forced to take a jump shot and Trevor just didn't get it off," JaMychal Green said of the final shot.

Creighton, making its 17th NCAA Tournament appearance, won its first tournament game since 2002. Seeded eighth in the Midwest Region, the Bluejays will next face North Carolina in Sunday's third round.

McDermott, the Missouri Conference Player of the Year who is the third-leading scorer in the country (23.2), didn't record a point for a 20-minute stretch between the first and second half.

But he netted nine key points down the stretch.

"Doug's been a rock for us all year and we did a good job of spreading the floor and getting him the ball inside, and he does what he does best and that's put the ball in the basket," Creighton head coach Greg McDermott said.

Creighton eroded an 11-point second-half deficit and used a 14-0 surge late in the stanza to seize control of the contest.

Ethan Wragge and Jones nailed back-to-back treys to start the surge. McDermott then converted a pair of layups and Jones knocked down another triple to cap the run as the Bluejays took a 57-50 lead with 2:44 remaining.

Alabama, which missed six straight shots during the stretch, fought back at the end.

After Andrew Steele's three-ball cut the margin to four, Nick Jacob's tip-in a possession later pulled Alabama within 57-55 with a minute to play.

Gregory Echenique misfired on the front end of a one-and-one on Creighton's ensuing possession, but McDermott pulled down a key offensive rebound. He made 1-of-2 from the charity stripe, making it 58-55 with 31 seconds left.

Green found a cutting Steele for a layup on Alabama's next trip down the floor with 19 ticks remaining, setting up the hectic conclusion.

The Bluejays shot 54.2 percent in the second stanza and nailed 4-of-8 shots from beyond the arc.

The Crimson Tide closed the first half on a 10-0 spurt and took a 30-23 advantage into the break. Trevor Lacey had 12 of his 13 points in the first frame.

Creighton, which leads the nation in field-goal percentage (50.9), shot just 34.6 percent in the opening 20 minutes.

Game Notes

The Bluejays outscored the Crimson Tide, 26-18, in the paint and tallied 14 assists on 22 made field goals. Creighton was 44 percent from the floor and 9- of-21 from three-point range...Grant Gibbs had 10 points and Jones finished with 7 for Creighton...In 2002, Creighton won its first-round game against Florida before falling to Illinois in the second round.