What started as a track meet between two highly skilled offensive teams slowly devolved into a series of bizarre and unfortunate events to stymie the breakneck pace that was an absolute joy to watch. The first half belonged to the Bluejays, the second half belonged to... also the Bluejays.
I recall what the UMKC coach said in the post game a few weeks ago, where he noted that it’s impossible to replicate Creighton’s speed during practice, how much faster it was in real life compared to on film. What NC State just experienced tonight was exactly that; the unscoutable. They tried to run with the Jays, but the Jays were far quicker. They tried to find rhythm on offense, but this newly vaunted turnover-based defense proved their efforts to be futile.
The Wolfpack began to settle. They tried to right the ship by slowing down the tempo, but it was too little too late. You don’t return the fire of a machine gun with a musket.
The first half started the same exact way as the previous two games started; with Justin Patton putting the orange orb into the rim with a bit of authority. From there, both teams would run and trade baskets until the final two minutes of the half, where Creighton would begin to saunter away with a 6 point advantage at half.
The score? 54-48. Cole Huff had 14 points on 3-4 shooting, all three field goals being treys, as well as making 5 free throws. Tyler Clement had some solid minutes, scoring five points and collecting 4 assists, after Maurice Watson Jr., was sidelined with a couple of fouls.
A glowing bright spot for the Wolfpack was the play from Terry Henderson. In the first half, he seemingly could not miss from beyond the arc. It was a masterful performance, good for a game-leading 17 points.
At the start of the second half the pace was still incredibly quick. It became clear that NC State no longer had the energy to keep up with the Jays, so they tried all they could to try to break their pace. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.
A kerfuffle ensued after Cole Huff put a body on Markell Johnson; it was pretty incidental contact but it stalled play. A few Wolfpack players decided to get into Cole Huff’s face, an altercation that Mo Watson delegated and eventually broke up. The only thing that was truly hurt in the whole ordeal was the pace, as the referees began calling fouls to slow the game down.
To make matters worse, Marcus Foster was called for a technical after making a spectacular three after a few vicious jab steps and saying some bad words to a Wolfpack player as he bounded back on defense. It was ticky tack, it was bad.
Then, a few possessions later, Maurice Watson Jr., tossed up an alley-oop to Justin Patton, which he crammed to the delight of every basketball fan ever. In his jubilation, in the ecstasy of the moment, Patton was T’d up for his celebration. It was a really poor call.
Luckily, NC State started running out of players to trot onto the court. As Beejay Anya fouled out and the Pack had 4 players with 4+ fouls, they threw in the proverbial towel. The game wasn’t quite the same after that, as the boys from Raleigh were shellshocked by what could be one of the best Bluejay offensive performances in recent memory.
With the win, Creighton will move on to the championship game of the Paradise Jam against Ole Miss tomorrow night at 7:30pm. The win also improves their record to 4-0 on the year.