Bluejay Rewind: Creighton vs Wyoming, 2/17/2001
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.
In the summer of 2000, Wyoming and Creighton were both gearing up for seasons in which they’d be the favorites in their leagues, and they had a similar problem — quality opponents were ducking them. So Cowboys coach Steve McClain and the Jays’ Dana Altman signed a home-and-home contract, with the first game to be played in Laramie in December, and the return to be played late in the season in Omaha.
“Yeah, the conference games are big, but basketball is basketball,” Dana Altman told reporters before the game. “Maybe I don’t emphasize our league enough and maybe that’s why we’ve had trouble winning the league. But when we went to Tulsa, that was just as important to me as any conference game. When we went to Nebraska, when we played Providence early, those games were just as important to me. It’s a game. It’s competition. We’re in the middle of a conference race, but so is Wyoming. It doesn’t bother me. It’s a great opportunity for us.”
On the morning of February 17, both the Cowboys and Bluejays were in first place in their respective leagues, and as ESPN brought the nation’s living rooms into the Omaha Civic Auditorium for an 11 a.m. tip, viewers saw a sold-out, rowdy crowd that provided a massive homecourt advantage. It’s most evident in two sequences where the Jays’ press fed off the energy of the crowd — both their noise and their proximity to the court — to force consecutive turnovers. In the first, after a bucket Kyle Korver steals the inbounds pass with one of the most remarkable plays of it’s type you’ll ever see, appearing to literally intercept the pass at point-blank range and lay it in for a basket. On the second, Ryan Sears steals the ball at midcourt and feeds it to Terrell Taylor for a thunderous fastbreak dunk.
Korver scored 25 points, a career-high at the time, and harassed all-MWC forward Josh Davis into near-invisibility. Davis had two points and four rebounds (well below his average of 9.6) before fouling out when, out of frustration, he had some choice words for an official after his fourth foul. It was a tough, physical game, with the teams combining for 47 fouls, and four players fouling out.
“At times, it was just kind of a brawl. They’re big, strong, physical. They just threw us out of the way half the time. It was a fight, it was a scramble. You’ve just got to kind of stay in there and keep plugging away,” Altman noted after the game. The Jays outrebounded the MWC’s leading rebounding team 38-32, and made 25 of 32 free throws including a remarkable 22-25 in the second half alone.
The win moved Creighton to 13-0 at home, and they’d complete a perfect season with a win on senior night over Missouri State two weeks later — a game we’ll feature later this summer on Bluejay Rewind.
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