With Cincinnati's Sean Kilpatrick firing in 3-pointers and Cashmere Wright adding key shots, the Bearcats kept close to Creighton but the Blue Jays kept just ahead with free-throw shooting.
Creighton (28-7) goes to the Midwest Region third round Sunday against No. 2-seeded Duke, which was a 73-61 winner over Albany earlier Friday. Cincinnati sees its season end with a 22-12 record.
McDermott had a lay-up off a feed from Grant Gibbs that put Creighton ahead 52-44 before Kilpatrick and Wright brought Cincinnati close. Back-to-back Kilpatrick jumpers tied the score 54-54 with 3:33 to go but Gregory Echenique make a short shot -- off another Gibbs assist -- for the lead Creighton wouldn't give up.
The Blue Jays were 10-of-11 from the free-throw line the rest of the way, offsetting nine points from Kilpatrick and Wright.
McDermott was 11-of-11 in free throws for the game in getting 27 points while Echenique chipped in 13 for Creighton.
Kilpatrick led Cincinnati with 19 points and Wright added 15.