Do you remember the first time you went on a date? The first time attempting to make a connection with someone, navigating through conversation until you eventually decided whether or not it'd work out. As the event churned on you felt an array of different things, but for the most part you attempted to listen intently and try to get to know the person you're attempting to court. Perhaps it led to another date, where you sunk deeper into the knowledge of this person you felt a certain way for. Perhaps it led to a lasting relationship, where you eventually got to know all the ins and outs of the person - knowing how they work, what makes them happy, what pisses them off. Perhaps you didn't get that second date, and instead you ended up attempting this same process with someone else. Perhaps you never really found someone you could confide in, that you couldn't quite seem to find someone that could match your rhythm.
Creighton's basketball team has been flirting with the winning process all season long. Previously, when games came down to the wire, the Bluejays seemed to let the game slip through their fingers in the waning seconds of the tilt, coming close to getting that delicious W against a formidable opponent, but not quite making the connection. With a team led by a point guard in his first season in the BIG EAST, Creighton has courted many a teams and seemingly fell short when it mattered most. I've been on a lot of dates like that, trust me.
Tonight, however, they finally broke through. Against an 18th ranked Butler team that seemed to fight and claw to keep it close until the waning seconds, the Bluejays were finally able to put away an opponent when it mattered most. They were able to come from a 1st half deficit smoking hot and pushing the tempo while going on a 12-2 run. The crowd was in a panicked jubilation, realizing that their hoopball squadron was putting a top-25 team on its heels. Butler fought, but without starting point guard Tyler Lewis to man the team, they were unable to mount a decent comeback.
The Bulldog offense ran through Roosevelt Jones tonight as he took the reins of this bobsled team and attempted to will them to victory. Early on in the 1st half, Jones was attributed his second foul and he was forced to step off of the gas just a bit, allowing Kelan Martin to takeover offensively. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they ran into an inspired Creighton defense that seemed dead set on forcing everything the Dawgs could put up. When it was all said and done, Butler shot a mere 35% from the field in the first half, gaining 6 points off two threes from Dunham, 17 points from Martin on 6-14 shooting, and just three points from their linebacker-esque pseudo point guard Roosevelt Jones. The score? 34-29 Dawgs.
I wrote an article earlier in the week questioning the defensive effort from the Creighton Bluejays. Previous to this game, the Jays were allowing their opponents to shoot 44.8% from the field. In order for this trend to continue, Butler would have had to shoot ~60% from the field in the second half. Instead, the Jays defense was a stalwart beast, forcing the Bulldogs into a plethora of awful shots as they managed a measly 30.3% from the field in the second half. It seemed as though the powerhouse, unforgiving offense Creighton put forth fatigued Butler a great deal. The Bulldogs attempted to stay in step with Maurice Watson's basketball wizardry, but their efforts were diminished as they managed to turn the ball over seven times in the second half.
Creighton's defense won this game. It really, truly did. Perhaps the outcome will be different when the Bluejays travel to Indy to play at the legendary Hinkle Fieldhouse with Chris Holtmann's squad (hopefully) at full strength, but tonight was won by the tenacity Creighton put forth on the defensive side.
Creighton got their first defining win of the season, at home in front of a jam packed house of 17,677. They finally got over the proverbial 'big game' hump with their victory tonight. Perhaps it's a night like this that'll get them to the big dance? Time will only tell, but they have a few more dates to awkwardly endure til that moment comes.