Creighton's Doug McDermott thriving in the Big East

Dave Weaver-USA TODAY Sports

Creighton's star forward is emerging as the favorite to win the Naismith Award, given every April to college basketball's best player.

Doug McDermott has spent the 2013-2014 season silencing his remaining doubters, averaging a career-high 25.2 points per game for Creighton. The senior forward has the Bluejays on a 10-game winning streak, including a 5-0 start in Creighton's inaugural Big East season.

The scary part? The two-time consensus All-American is getting better as conference play heats up.

During the 5-0 start, McDermott has averaged 26.2 points and 6.8 rebounds, a slight bump in scoring from his non-conference totals. There were questions about what would happen when McDermott was no longer beating up on mid-majors, but facing more intricate defenses in the newly-minted Big East. For his first three years at Creighton, the Bluejays were members of the Missouri Valley Conference. McDermott was balling, but doing so against teams such as Bradley and Evansville.

While the Jays haven't played either of their scheduled games against defensive-minded Villanova, McDermott is thriving against the stiffer competition of the conference season. The senior dropped 35 against Xavier, which is a trendy sleeper to challenge for the Big East title this season. He even outdueled another of the top players in the country that night, Semaj Christon, who scored (only) 27 in the contest.

McDermott's importance to his team is at an all-time high. Departed senior Greg Echenique and injured guard Grant Gibbs are both out of the picture after combining for 18 points and 11 rebounds last season. McDermott is attempting three more field goals per game -- 17.2 -- than he averaged over his junior season. The added shots have depressed the All-American's field goal percentage, which has fallen under 50 percent for the first time in his career. In his junior season, McDermott hit 54.8 percent of his shots.

Creighton is not only in the hunt for a Big East title, but it is seeking its first Sweet 16 bid since 1974. The Bluejays are 2-2 in the Big Dance since McDermott arrived on campus, falling to Duke and North Carolina in the last two seasons. McDermott's senior season is Creighton's best chance for a memorable tournament run, where a Final Four run could coincide with him being named Naismith National Player of the Year.

If McDermott maintains his scoring average, he will finish the regular season just a hair shy of 3,000 points for this career. That number vaults him ahead of Oscar Robertson, Elvin Hayes, Larry BIrd and Danny Manning. A deep tournament run by Creighton could sneak McDermott into the top five all-time, but he would still fall well short of Pete Maravich's record of 3,667 points.

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