What. The. Fuck?
If it wasn’t clear that Creighton had problems with their post defense against DePaul, consider the first half of this affair to offer a picturesque view of how bad they’ve become in the post-Slovenian era of this season.
Xavier’s Kerem Kanter managed to score 12 points on 4-5 shooting, adding to the 28 points in the paint the Musketeers managed in the first 20 minutes. Toby Hegner, bless his soul, was never recruited to Creighton to play post defense against the BIG EAST’s bigs, and as he got pushed around time and time again, the Musketeers eating his confidence and soul alive, he revealed this fact in full.
When Hegner stood idly in the paint, awaiting the ball to fall in his hands in regards to rebounding on the defensive side, he’d be undercut and caught napping as JP Macura, Kerem Kanter, and Naji Marshall swiped 5 offensive rebounds away, scoring on all of their put backs.
While Trevon Bluiett was busy being #Khyrifensed and scoring just two in the first half, Creighton relied on that defensive guru to score, as he put in 11 points on 4-4 shooting. He was able to get switched onto O’Mara or Kanter multiple times, shake them, and score with ease. He also logged two steals in the 20 minutes of action.
Marcus Foster went 4-10 from the field in the first half for 9 points and played an integral role with a trey in the 10-0 run Creighton managed to whip together to tie the game at 30-30 with 4:30 left in the first half.
Yet it was the insatiable paint play by the Musketeers that led to their lead at the end of the half, putting up a 5-0 run of their own to push the score to 43-35.
The second half started as a back and forth affair, with the Jays relying on Foster and Harrell Jr. to carry the load offensively, scoring their first three buckets while Xavier countered with Naji Marshall, Macura, and Trevon Bluiett.
At the 14:30 mark Creighton began their run to overtake the lead. It began with a jumper by Foster, followed by a layup by Davion Mintz, another bucket by Foster, and a layup by freshman Mitchell Ballock to take a 55-54 lead with 11:51 remaining.
The back and forth affair continued, neither team giving up much defensively, making points a rare commodity. From that Bluejay run to the 3:19 mark in the game, both teams managed to put 10 points on the board, the lead changing three times, and getting knotted up once.
Creighton’s defensive gameplan changed dramatically in the second half. While they shied away from doubling the post when Kanter and O’Mara touched the ball in the first, they initiated the doubleteam in the second, leading to multiple turnovers and forced the Musketeer attack to stall out. With Bluiett neutralized and the bigs shut down, Xavier had to rely on Quentin Goodin to kickstart everything.
At that aforementioned 3:19 mark, after Marcus Foster canned yet another trey, followed by a tip-in from Kerem Kanter, the score sat at 68-64, X with the lead.
For some reason, JP Macura was into playing a little hero ball. He missed five consecutive shots towards the end of the game, with his fifth being a near half-courter to try to push the lead to 7.
Khyri Thomas grabbed the rebound, looked to outlet, and spotted Foster streaking down the court all alone. Khyri didn’t miss, nailed Foster in stride, and Foster dunked it right in front of Macura, making it a one possession, two point game at 68-66 with just under 2 minutes left.
Goodin would foul Mintz on a drive to the basket, sending the sophomore to the line for two. He’d sink both, tying the game at 68-68. Momentum: Bluejays.
The offenses collectively stalled before Macura inserted himself into the hero role again, banging in a tip in to put the Musketeers ahead by two with 21 seconds left.
Surprising to no one, Marcus Foster ended up with the ball in his hands as the seconds ticked down. With 9 seconds left, Foster put up a fade-away mid range jumper that clanged off, yet took a good bounce right back to Foster. Foster then fed Ronnie Harrell Jr. on the wing and Ronnie launched a trey right in front of his bench. Trevon Bluiett went to contest, and as Ronnie put it up Trevon hit his elbow and made a bit of contact with the body.
The shot clanged off. Xavier got the rebound.
then, Ronnie was at the line. I personally didn’t hear a whistle. Goodin said in the postgame that he didn’t hear a whistle. Yet, upon replay, it was clear that Bluiett made a bit of contact.
So Ronnie shot his shots.
He made all three, damned be the gamesmanship and stalling that Chris Mack attempted to deploy to rattle the veteran and versatile forward.
71-70, Bluejays. 4 seconds left.
Xavier drew up a play to end all plays, with Quentin Goodin receiving the ball with Khyri Thomas getting screened. Goodin, with a full head of steam, went straight for the basket as time slowly ticked away.
When he was met by a wall of Harrell Jr., and Hegner, he put up a shot only for it to be swatted away by the much taller Hegner.
then, the ref signaled a blocking call, awarding Goodin two free throws. The crowd at the CenturyLink Center tried their damndest to distract him, yet he sank both, with just .3 seconds remaining on the clock.
The Jays tried an inbound play that failed miserably, with Hegner throwing it out of bounds to the other side of the court.
editors note: the fact that this game was decided by iffy foul calls is bullshit. absolute, total, bullshit.
This was called a foul with .3 seconds left and Xavier down 1. Creighton got absolutely screwed. pic.twitter.com/phWICzdjoS— Jonny Kane (@JKane5) February 10, 2018
It isn’t controversial, it is simply a horrendous call. https://t.co/yuDelA3X28— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) February 10, 2018
I’d blow a gasket if I were @cucoachmac. Or ten.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) February 10, 2018