It was Sunday morning, ten hours before tipoff in the Round of 32 between Creighton and Baylor. As I brew some coffee and settle into the day - I throw on an old basketball game on the TV.
A game from nine years ago. March 23, 2014.
It was Doug McDermott's final game in a Creighton uniform. The third-seeded Bluejays were senior laden, with four players playing in their final NCAA Tournament. The Baylor Bears dominated Creighton wire-to-wire, touting a tough 1-3-1 style zone that Creighton simply couldn't crack.
Listening to Greg McDermott's locker room speech after that game would get even the hardest Creighton fan emotional. The impact that group (McDermott, Gibbs, Wragge, Manigat) had on Creighton's men's basketball program cannot be overstated.
And now, fast forward ten hours from when that game was fired up on my laptop.
Baylor Scheierman hammers home a three on Creighton's first possession of the game. This time, things were different. This time, Creighton gave Baylor (the school, not the headband-wearing phenom) everything they had on their way to an 85-76 victory.
Scott Drew went to the zone for three possessions early on, but this time it didn't work out as Francisco Farabello hit his first of three big triples on the night.
Defensively, Creighton forced Baylor into some tough looks. I can't wait for the Big 12 people to come for me, but they haven't seem big's like Kalkbrenner too many times.
In the Big East, you have an abundance of really good true centers. Kalkbrenner, Sanogo, Soriano, Bates, Nunge, etc. Whereas the Big 12, while a great conference, had no true bigs in their first or second team all-conference.
So, Baylor settled for a lot of mid range jumpers and contested threes, not being able to attack the rim. Outside of LJ Cryer, Baylor shot just 39% from the floor and 11% from beyond the arc.
Four Bluejays were in double figures, but Ryan Nembhard led the way for Creighton. Nembhard had 30 pts on 8-13 from the field, while only committing one turnover. Trey Alexander tallied 17, and created is own shot numerous times. The two guards bailed out some Creighton possessions with some wild shotmaking.
Without Mason Miller (ankle), Creighton relied heavily on Fransisco Farabello off the bench for heavy minutes (22). Farabello capitalized with three triples and added a pair of assists. Ryan Kalkbrenner added 10 points on 4-10 from the floor but impacted the game as much as anyone.
As a team, Creighton went 11-24 from beyond the arc (45%) compared to Baylor's paltry 22%. You could easily say that is the difference in the game, just making shots. But that wouldn't be an accurate representation of this game. Creighton shot well because they got the shots that they wanted, while they forced Baylor into a lot of contested, off-balance shots.
Creighton will now play the Ivy League Champion Princeton Tigers on Friday night.