“Creighton may have the best back court in college basketball.”
-A sportswriter during the 2017-18 offseason
Well, good job sportswriter. Unfortunately, you didn’t specify that the Jays would have a back court that’s 4-deep. Those are what we call semantics, and by God if you don’t adhere to these things, you’ll fail miserably in this crazy game.
What we witnessed tonight was nothing short of madness on the hardwood, a complex mismash of college basketball players running like track stars while attempting to score points in droves.
Creighton took their first lead of the game at the 13:37 mark with a Khyri Thomas jumper, slipping forward at 14-13. Until that point it appeared that UCLA was going to push the pace, scoring on four of their first nine possessions while the Jays struggled to adjust. Martin Krampelj was pulled early on for a misplay in the post, leading to a turnover, forcing McDermott’s hand to put in the MAD DOG.
The Jays added to the lead with a jumper from the elbow by Mitchell Ballock and a Marcus Foster three to push the score to 19-13. The crowd, heavily adorned in Creighton white and blue, became incensed. With the upper bowl curtained off, the sound bounded around the arena like a bed bug in a dorm room.
In a span of merely twenty seconds, Tyshon Alexander began what became the deluge of points by the two freshmen, scoring on a layup and then splashing in a three. The lead grew to 11 and the track meet was being won by two fresh faces on the national scene.
At the 9:43 mark, Greg McDermott’s squad was up 29-18 and there wasn’t too much the Bruin defense could do to stop them, so Alford deployed a zone to try to stymie the waterfall his team was drowning under.
Typically, a zone will clog passing lanes, yet leave great passing teams with a sure-fire open shot.
The latter happened.
Creighton couldn’t capitalize.
UCLA went on a 10-0 run, and that sweet, sweet 11 point lead that once cradled the Jays so lovingly dissipated faster than a sweet roll in front of a starved solider in Normandy.
Davion Mintz attempted to shore things up with a couple of free throws, and after a missed shot by the Bruins, the Bluejay offense returned to the offensive end only to find that Steve Alford had called off his dogs and returned to man.
It was a mind twisting decision that left the Bluejay offense in a staggered sense of unbelief, so they promptly scored on their next two possessions.
“It’s early in the season, we are trying to figure ourselves out too. What we do defensively, and the schemes that we have zone wise is stuff we just have to keep working on. Obviously, playing a team like this that is so good offensively, they can exploit an awful lot of weaknesses.” - Steve Alford on going zone
UCLA would put on a spurt of their own and eventually retake the lead at 38-36. Nervous shakes from the shoulders down from the Bluejay faithful could be seen from a mile away. With just 2:04 remaining in the half, the Bruins suddenly had all the momentum in the world.
Enter: Mitchell Ballock.
With 1:26 remaining Ballock hits a three pointer to push the Jays back to a 39-38 lead. The crowd ignites. To celebrate, after a UCLA miss on the other end, Ballock goes up against a sea of Bruin jerseys and lays one in. Now, it’s 41-38.
After yet another miss, and a rebound to Ronnie Harrell, Mitchell Ballock attempted to send this crowd into a frenzy. He launched another three, this one bounding off the rim.
It isn’t over.
UCLA’s Kris Wilkes is in the process of taking the ball up after acquiring the rebound, only to have it stolen away from him by...
Ballock would go hard to the rim and pop in the final bucket of his 7-0 half ending run.
43-38, Jays. UCLA just got #BallockBombed.
Without missing a beat, the Jays continued their run, beginning the half with a 7-0 spurt, complementing their 7-0 spurt to end the half. Symmetry is truly beautiful, isn’t it?
Between the 13:40 mark, that started with a Mitchell Ballock trey, UCLA surrendered another short burst of scoring from the Jays, pushing their lead to 66-55. UCLA proceeded to crawl back, as best as they could, deploying an interesting tactic to rattle the Bluejays.
This tactic is now known as #TechKhyri, where a team forgoes going for the ball and instead attacks arguably one of the best players in the game in Khyri Thomas.
At the 9:36 mark, Khyri did what he does best by nabbing a lazy, floating pass at the top of the key from Jaylen Hands trying to connect with his big man Thomas Welsh. This play had worked previous, with Ballock defending up top, yet Khyri’s arms extend to the fourth dimension, so naturally he tipped it, grabbed it, and then attempted his patented fast break dunk on the other end.
Hands interrupted this process by going straight for Thomas, shoving him just next to the stanchion. Flagrant 1, Khyri misses the front end of the 1-and-1, and we move on without much pause.
...until the 5:33 mark, when Khyri drove baseline and UCLA’s Prince Ali threw himself into our lord and savior, drawing yet another flagrant one.
And, yet again, Khyri missed the front end of the one-and-one.
At least they kept possession, right?
At the 9:08 mark Tyshon Alexander put in a ridiculous one handed finger roll, bending his hand backwards as he let the ball just roll off his fingertips into the rim. This would put the Jays up 75-67.
Mitchell Ballock would then lay the bear trap to capture the already injured Bruin by sinking back to back threes, putting the Jays up 83-71, with 7:51 remaining in the game.
Khyri Thomas would set the lure into the trap to finish off the wounded Bruin, burying a three with 1:40 remaining, putting the Jays up 97-87. From that point it was a series of rushed possessions by UCLA, a few made free throws by the Jays, and the game was in the record books.
A game against Baylor awaits Creighton tomorrow night at 9:00.
A rematch for the ages. A statement game.
A chance for revenge.
Can the Jays kill two Bears with one weekend?
@BluejayMBB drops 100 points on No. 23 UCLA. It's the 2nd-most points Creighton has ever scored against a ranked team (scored 101 points against No. 6 Villanova in 2014).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 21, 2017