New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Paced by 32 points from Doug McDermott, the Creighton Bluejays outlasted the Xavier Musketeers, 86-78, in the semifinal round of the Big East Conference Tournament at Madison Square Garden.
McDermott shot 10-of-20 from the field and a perfect 10-of-10 at the free- throw line for second-seeded Creighton (26-6), which punched its ticket to Saturday's championship game to take on Providence. Ethan Wragge shot 5-of-9 from 3-point range for 17 points, while Austin Chatman added 11 points.
"We're thrilled," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "In less than 24 hours, we're playing for a Big East championship. When Ethan (Wragge) and Doug (McDermott) made the decision to come to Creighton, when I made the decision to come to Creighton, for that matter, none of us ever dreamed that would be a possibility."
For third-seeded Xavier (21-12), Isaiah Philmore tallied 23 points and seven rebounds, Semaj Christon registered 18 points and six assists and Justin Martin netted 12 points.
Creighton took a comfortable 45-33 lead at intermission after shooting 53.6 percent from the field in the opening stanza. McDermott and Wragge combined for 33 first-half points for the Bluejays.
"To be on the stage we're going to be on tomorrow night is a fitting way for an incredible senior class to end their regular season careers to play for a Big East title," McDermott said.
The Bluejays' advantage extended to as many as 19 with just eight minutes to play, but the Musketeers showed some fight by bringing their deficit to just five with 1:23 remaining following a Dee Davis 3-pointer. Xavier would get no closer however, as Creighton knocked down all eight of its free-throw attempts in the final minute.
Xavier upset Creighton back on March 1 at the Cintas Center, 75-69 ... Creighton is seeking its third straight conference tournament title, having claimed the Missouri Valley crown in each of the last two seasons ... McDermott has scored 30 or more in three straight games ... The Bluejays knocked down 21-of-24 at the free-throw line on the evening, compared to only 8-of-12 for the Musketeers ... Xavier shot just 4-of-16 from 3-point range.