SAN ANTONIO (AP) — For Doug McDermott and his Creighton teammates, the last two years at the NCAA tournament left them bitter after third-round losses robbed them of a chance to go farther than any Bluejays team before them.
They also were a major motivating factor in keeping this team together for another try.
With that goal in mind, McDermott skipped a chance to enter the NBA draft, rallying a senior-laden group to another big season. Third-seeded Creighton (27-7) plays No. 6 seed Baylor (25-11) on Sunday in the West Regional for a chance to advance to the round of 16 for the first time in school history.
"We've knocked on the door and come so close the last few years to try to get into that Sweet 16 and see what happens after that," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "I couldn't think of a better way for their career to end than to go (farther) and have a chance to go to the Final Four."
Creighton's four senior starters give the Bluejays a blend of maturity and confidence to support a scorer like Doug McDermott, who leads the nation at 27 points per game.
Greg McDermott noted that the seniors could stay together because early career injuries led to redshirt seasons for Grant Gibbs and Ethan Wragge. Then his son Doug made the surprise decision not to turn pro.
"All of a sudden, you have these pieces in place again for a fourth year together," Greg McDermott said. "There is a confidence about them. ... They believe in each other."
The group that earned their chops in the Missouri Valley Conference stepped up to the Big East and played for the conference title in their first season.
"This is our last go around," Doug McDermott said. "We've been through so much together to get to this point."
Baylor is a big and athletic team that all but collapsed in January, only to pick itself back up and turn things around with a frantic finish. Last season's NIT champions started the season ranked No. 25 and rose as high as No. 7 behind a 13-1 start.
But the Bears nearly fell apart in the Big 12 with a 2-8 start in league play and were written off as one of the most disappointing teams in the country. They responded by winning 10 of their next 11 and made it to the Big 12 title game.