Updated at: 02/10/2013 12:08 AM
By ERIC OLSON
(AP) OMAHA, Neb. - After a rough start, Tyler Brown had a fantastic finish.
Brown, who missed four of five shots in the first half, scored 23 of his 27 points in the second and Illinois State took advantage of Creighton’s dismal shooting to beat the 16th-ranked Bluejays 75-72 Saturday night.
"I knew in my mind I had to get going, so I had to find a way," Brown said. "I was lucky enough to hit some big shots for us, and I got some big assists, too."
The Redbirds (15-10, 6-7 Missouri Valley) won their first true road game over a ranked opponent since 1985 and have won six of their last seven after starting 0-6 in conference play.
"We’re moving up," Brown said. "Every day, whether it’s in practice or in the weight room, we’re getting better and taking it step by step. When March comes, we’re going to be at the top of our game."
The Bluejays (20-5, 9-4) seemed headed in the other direction. They lost their second straight, falling into a three-way tie for first in the league.
"Our team competed tonight," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "I don’t fault their effort. Without question we had a few mental mistakes at times that led to some easy baskets. We made a few too many mistakes on a night when we didn’t shoot the ball well at all from the 3-point line."
Illinois State made things interesting at the end. After Creighton’s Grant Gibbs hit two free throws to make it 75-72, Illinois State’s John Wilkins was called for double dribbling just before the buzzer. One second was put back on the clock, and Ethan Wragge’s long pass to Doug McDermott at mid-court was bobbled as time ran out.
Johnny Hill had 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists against just one turnover, and Jackie Carmichael added 16 points for the Redbirds.
McDermott scored 24 points and had 13 rebounds to lead the Bluejays, who shot 38 percent and shot just 4 of 23 from 3-point range. Gibbs added 16 points and Jahenns Manigat had 11.
Illinois State, which lost 79-72 to the Bluejays at home on Jan. 2, beat Creighton for the first time in seven games.
Creighton outrebounded Illinois State 48-29 and held a 23-11 advantage in offensive rebounds. But the Redbirds shot 49 percent and committed only six turnovers.
The Bluejays came in as the nation’s top 3-point shooting team but missed 16 of their first 18 attempts. Their four 3s were a season low.
Creighton seemed flummoxed when the Redbirds switched to a zone defense after taking the lead.
"It threw our rhythm off," Gibbs said. "We didn’t execute the sets we put in for a zone offense. Give them credit. We didn’t attack it."
Brown finished 10 of 18 from the field, including 3 of 8 on 3s, and he had a team-high five assists.
Brown put Illinois State ahead 48-44 with a layup and back-to-back 3s early in the second. Then Creighton’s Nevin Johnson went on a personal 6-0 run that he finished with a transition layup off a McDermott pass for a 50-48 lead.
Brown scored every which way to keep Creighton from gaining control. On nine of 10 Illinois State baskets over a 12-minute stretch of the second half, Brown was the player who put the ball in the hole. He converted a lob from Johnny Hill into an easy basket for a 60-57 lead, and his 3-pointer made it 65-60 with just over 6 minutes to play.
"He’s really hard to guard right now because he’s driving it and he can make shots," Illinois State coach Dan Muller said. "He made some really tough shots. He was a little down the first half. He missed some shots he thought he should make. He kept playing. His attitude has been so good, and when you do that, things like this can happen. He’s one of the best players in the league, and he played like it tonight."
McDermott and Gibbs pulled the Bluejays to 65-64, but then Hill hit only his second 3-pointer of the season to make it a four-point game.
The Bluejays had their chances to come back. But Wragge shot an airball from long range, then fumbled a pass from Gibbs underneath the basket on the next possession.
Hill made a shot that swirled around the cylinder twice before slowly dropping through for an eight-point lead with 1:22 left. Gibbs made a 3-pointer, but Bryant Allen made a free throw to make it a six-point game.
After Gibbs cut the lead in half with another 3, Avery Dingman fouled Hill with 35 seconds left. Hill missed the front end of the one-and-one. Gibbs’ 3-point try went in and out. Wragge got the rebound and passed to Manigat, whose long shot bounced off the backboard.
Hill was fouled with 11.6 seconds left and made both free throws to put the Redbirds up by five.
Asked how long he’ll let his Redbirds celebrate their big win, Muller said: "We’ll get home in about three hours and that is it. We need to be past complacency. They certainly deserve to celebrate it on the plane ride home, but after that we need to have our minds on our next opponent."
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)