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Bluejay Rewind: Creighton vs Colorado State, 2/7/2000

Ed. Note: This is the part of our summer series that will look back at games from years past, including highlight packages. Not all of these games are classics in the traditional sense, but all of them feature terrific performances from Bluejay greats, and we think you’ll enjoy watching them as much as we did.

Winning the MVC Tournament and defeating Louisville in the NCAA Tournament in 1999 made Creighton a hotter television property heading into the 1999-2000 season. At that time, ESPN was showing a package of Mountain West games in the post-SportsCenter timeslot on Monday nights (midnight eastern/11pm central), and for the February 7 date they were looking for a non-conference foe to take on Colorado State. Dave Brown, manager of programming for ESPN, had a team in mind: Creighton.

“We knew that off the success Creighton had last year and with what they had coming back that they would be attractive for us,” Brown told the Omaha World-Herald. “And Dana does such a good job with them. Those were all reasons for (picking them).” He contacted Doug Elgin to make sure the date worked with the MVC’s slate of conference games, and after being assured it would, he approached Creighton with the opportunity.

“If I had my choice, we’d take the week off and go back to the practice floor and do some things,” Dana Altman told the Omaha World-Herald the morning of the game. “But it was an opportunity to play a nationally televised game – even though it’s a late game – so when we had the opportunity I thought we had to take it. It’s not ideal timing, especially when the conference office gave us two road games before that. But ESPN was looking for somebody to play Colorado State that night, they offered us the opportunity and we took it.”

The Jays played in Normal the Saturday prior to the game, and travelled straight to Fort Collins for the Big Monday game two nights later. It was tough sledding, but for a program not used to national television exposure, it was an opportunity too big to pass up.

Freshman Kyle Korver talked to the media beforehand about that opportunity. “I’ve had all my friends saying, ‘You’re going to be on ESPN, on Big Monday,’ and they’re all getting ready to watch. That’s really cool. But you can’t let that get in the way of concentrating on playing your own game. It’s something exciting, one of the perks of playing college basketball.”

Fellow freshman Terrell Taylor, a native of Bridgeport, Connecticut, echoed those sentiments. “It’ll be the first time for a lot of people back home to see me play. I’m pretty sure they will (stay up), but if not they’ll tape it. They want to know the next time we’re going to play up that way, and I said, ‘Never.’ It should be a big crowd there, and it’s going to be a big game.”

The game featured two of the best three-point shooting teams in the country — Colorado State was number one at 43%, while the Jays were number seven at 40.9% — and a home team with a 26-game non-conference winning streak. In winning 78-67, the Jays shot 57.1% from the field, had assists on 20 of their 28 baskets, rebounded eight of their 21 missed shots and limited their turnovers to 12. In other words, they controlled the game almost from the tip, giving the fans back in Omaha who stayed up until 1AM plenty to cheer about.

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