Then they found out the 15th-ranked Bluejays aren't a one-man team.
Reserve guard Josh Jones scored all 18 of his points in the second half to compensate for McDermott's quiet night in Creighton's 77-60 victory Wednesday night.
"The bottom line is Creighton is really good," first-year UAB coach Jerod Haase said. "We can take away some things, but at the end of the day there is a reason they're the (15th) team in the country and a reason they have big-time players on their team and a reason people talk about them."
McDermott, the returning first-team All-American, got into early foul trouble and finished with five points. He came in having scored in double figures in 37 straight games.
He sat out the last 13 minutes of the first half after drawing two quick fouls and finished 2 of 6 from the field.
"I'd be pleased with that stat line, for sure, and I'd think that would give us a much greater advantage," Haase said.
It looked as if it might, until Jones got hot.
The Blazers held their own in the paint in the first half against a Creighton team that had a superior frontcourt.
Jordan Swing hit a jumper from the wing to finish a 9-0 run that put the Blazers up 23-15. The lead grew to double digits after half when Swing and Terence Jones made back-to-back 3-pointers.
Jones matched his career high with four 3-pointers. The backup guard made two during a personal 10-0 run that tied it 45 and two more during a 17-0 spurt that finished off the Blazers (1-1).
Gregory Echenique and Grant Gibbs added 13 points apiece, and Ethan Wragge had 12—hitting four 3-pointers—for the Bluejays (2-0). Echenique matched his career high with 16 rebounds.
Isiah Jones led UAB with 16 points and Swing and Rod Rucker added 12 apiece.
The Blazers, who returned three starters from a team that was 15-16 last season, carried the play in the first half and led 37-33 at the break.
Josh Jones, who was scoreless in 13 minutes of a 71-51 win over North Texas in Creighton's opener last Friday, took over after UAB took a 45-35 lead.
The senior is known for providing a spark, and he sure did that when the rest of the Bluejays were struggling.
He made a layup and two free throws before spotting up in the left corner for back-to-back 3s to tie it.
The teams traded baskets before the Bluejays held UAB scoreless for almost 6 minutes during the decisive 17-0 run.
"The only thing I was a little discouraged with was when times got tough, it affected the next play," Haase said. "Whether it was Creighton making a shot, that affected our next offensive set; whether it was a call not going our way or a loose ball not going our way or something we didn't like, it affected the next play."
The Blazers shot 27 percent in the second half and 38 percent for the game. After holding a 17-14 rebounding edge in the first half, the Bluejays outrebounded them 23-14 in the second.
"I told my assistants before we came into this game that I think we'll know a lot more about our team after the game," Haase said. "I'm a first-year coach, these guys are trying to learn the system we're trying to run. I thought this would be a test tonight where we'd learn something about ourselves, and I think we did, good and bad. I think it's something we can move on and learn from."