As cold as it was outside, the temperatures sitting below zero as fans hurried into the warm confines of the CenturyLink Center, the BIG EAST basketball game those fans paid to witness was hot from the start.
When the Bluejays start things off with a three from the almighty, legendary, never-to-be-replicated TOBY! Hegner, it becomes clear that things will certainly fall in their favor.
When the Friars struggled from the field, and only let their troubles swallow them deeper into the belly of the beast that was the CenturyLink Center on this eve of the New Year, there seemed to be only darkness as they were digested and burned by the fiery pace the Jays put forth.
When the halftime lead stood at 10 points in favor of the Jays, there was cascading doubt falling from the rafters and the twittersphere. I don’t blame them, it’s hard to get too excited when you’ve seen your beloved team give away advantages. Gun shy or not, the talents of the magical duo that is ‘Quick Change’ momentarily put some of these nerves to rest.
There were memorable moments in this one, moments that may fade as you grow older, but will forever be etched into the year of 2017. There was Rodney Bullock biffing a dunk that turned into an emphatic one-handed slam by Marcus Foster. There was Khyri Thomas getting a steal. There was TOBY! Hegner drawing a charge.
Providence couldn’t shoot in this one. They tried, at least, but they were cold all day long. Kyron Cartwright tweaked his ankle in the first half, but played through it. Alpha Diallo and Rodney Bullock fell down at almost the same spot, then let Marcus Foster dunk on their squirming bodies.
So, the second half started, which isn’t really where Creighton hits their stride. They build leads only to see them get torn down. They’re masochists. They love the pain.
Or at least they used to.
Right out of the gates, TOBY! nailed another three. Then the court tilted downhill towards the Jays basket. Providence’s Ed Cooley saw this happening. His guys weren’t built to withstand the barrage, the pace, the fact that every time they turned around after making a bucket the Bluejay offense was right back in their face. They didn’t have time to breathe.
When you can’t breathe, it never hurts to laugh. So when Kalif Young got called for a defensive foul after plowing over Martin Krampelj, a call Young didn’t appreciate one bit, Coach Cooley simply yelled to Coach McDermott to, “Get him into the weight room.”
Someone else laughed.
The lead grew.
Providence remained cold.
The glowing beacon of optimism for the Friars is the play of Nate Watson tonight. Just a freshman, he managed to put in 20 points, and proved to be a formidable big man against TOBY! and Krampelj. Though he only grabbed one board, and his footwork seems suspect, he’s inhabits a physical blueprint for greatness.
Soon, Manny Suarez, Tyler Clement, and Jordan Scurry entered the fold for the Jays with just over a minute left. This game, for all that anxiety that drove fans to speculate if these Jays were for real, was finally over.