PHILADELPHIA — Doug McDermott can put his decision on hold about whether to stay at Creighton or leave.
McDermott had 27 points and 11 rebounds to help his Bluejays hold on to beat Cincinnati, 67-63, on Friday in the Midwest Regional at the Wells Fargo Center.
Gregory Echenique scored 13 points and Ethan Wragge added 12 for the Bluejays, who won their NCAA Tournament opener for the second straight year.
McDermott made all 11 free throws to help the seventh-seeded Bluejays move on to play Duke on Sunday.
‘‘Since last season, we wanted to get back to this game,’’ said McDermott, the two-time Missouri Valley Conference player of the year.
The Bluejays (28-7) were eliminated last year by North Carolina. Now, the ACC stands in their way again.
‘‘We've been shooting for this game for a year, wanting to get back to have an opportunity to play to get into the Sweet 16,’’ coach Greg McDermott said.
Sean Kilpatrick’s driving layup after Cincinnati had the arrow on a jump ball cut it to 64-63 with 17 seconds left.
Austin Chatman sank two free throws for Creighton. Kilpatrick’s attempt at a tying 3 rimmed out, and the Bearcats’ Cheikh Mbodj was whistled for traveling after grabbing the rebound. Chatman then hit one of two from the line to clinch it.
McDermott has said he’ll wait until after the season to decide if he’ll return for his senior year. He’s projected as a late first- or early second-round pick and could probably boost his stock with a strong season against tougher teams in a new-look Big East.
‘‘All I'm on focused on right now is just trying to get as far as we can and that decision will come later,’’ McDermott said. ‘‘But I feel like it definitely does play a part in it.’’
The Bluejays could never put away the 10th-seeded Bearcats (22-12).
For all their woes, the Bearcats never trailed by more than 8 in the second half. Cashmere Wright (15 points) hit a 3 — Cincinnati’s fourth on 15 attempts — to slice it to 52-49.
McDermott had a rare miss inside and showed frustration, clapping his hands trying to rally the Bluejays. Kilpatrick (19 points) hit two free throws to pull the Bearcats within 2. He sank consecutive jumpers to tie the game at 54 with 3:33 left.
That was pretty much all the Bearcats had left, and they’re heading home a year after reaching the round of 16. Except for a five-minute spurt midway through the second half to help them tie the game, they couldn’t buy a bucket.