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Creighton do-it-all man Baylor Scheierman looking for happier ending in March Madness

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Hands on his head with the front of his jersey pulled up to cover his face, Baylor Scheierman was the picture of Creighton's raw emotion in the immediate aftermath of its crushing loss in the NCAA Elite Eight last year.

That loss to San Diego State denied the Bluejays of their first Final Four and made Scheierman's decision to come back to college for a fifth year a lot easier.

If third-seeded Creighton beats No. 2 Tennessee in the Sweet 16 in Detroit on Friday night, the Bluejays would be in the same position as a year ago. No one has played a bigger role in making it to this point than Scheierman.

He ranks in the top five in the Big East in scoring, rebounding and free-throw shooting and in the top 10 in 3-point shooting and assists. He was an All-Big East first-team pick by The Associated Press and the conference’s head coaches and a third-team AP All-American.

“He’s truly a complete player, and I’d probably say the most complete player I've been around,” Utah State transfer and fourth-year point guard Steven Ashworth said.

Creighton leaned hard on Scheierman to get through the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament with an 86-73 double-overtime win over No. 11 Oregon in Pittsburgh on Saturday.

The Bluejays were down four points with under 30 seconds left in regulation when Scheierman made two free throws to halve the deficit. After Oregon missed the front end of a one-and-one, Scheierman came off a screen and hit a fade-away jumper to tie it at 64 with nine seconds left.

“I always want the ball in that situation,” Scheierman said. “My coaches and teammates obviously trust me a lot because they gave me the ball. The season’s on the line, and that’s what I’ve worked for since I was in eighth grade.”

Scheierman grew up two hours west of Omaha in Aurora, Nebraska, where he was a star quarterback and a two-time all-state pick in basketball. He was a bit undersized in high school and didn't attract recruiting attention from power-conference programs. He accepted an offer to South Dakota State and was named Summit League player of the year in his third, and final, season with the Jackrabbits.

Scheierman went through an NBA draft evaluation and was told he would be served well by staying in school and playing against higher-level competition, getting faster and stronger and working on shooting off screens and quickening his release.

The 6-foot-7, 205-pounder said he has accomplished what he set out to do in his two years at Creighton. He leads the team with 18.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per game and is averaging 4.0 assists. His 16 double-doubles lead the Big East, and he had Creighton's first triple-double since the 1980s. He's made a 3-pointer in 22 straight games and in 80 of his last 81.

“I felt like I wanted to go into my professional career being the most prepared I could be,” Scheierman said. “I wanted to get better as an individual and help this team make another run in March.”

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AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness