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Bluejay Rewind: Jays vs Evansville, 3/1/1999

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.

The 1999 MVC Championship game may as well be called “The Rodney Buford Game.” The senior had 21 points and 13 rebounds, and took over the game when it mattered most — making six straight baskets in the second half. In one sequence, he made a nifty floater in the lane, then stole the ball at halfcourt a few seconds later and raced back downcourt for an emphatic slam dunk.

Buford had struggled during the tournament, scoring just four points with five rebounds against Illinois State in the quarterfinals and 16 points and six rebounds against Southwest Missouri State in the semifinal. He was struggling again the final.

Then Ben Walker got in his face at halftime.

“We came in and Ben got on me,” Buford told the media after the game. “He said, ‘You’re not playing like you should, you’re not rebounding and on the offensive end you’ve got to take over.’ That’s what I thought I had to do. I wanted to be the difference – maker.”

Coach Dana Altman joked after the game, “Ben should take over the coaching duties. He’s the one who got him to play. I’ve screamed at him all year and it never did any good. But Ben tells him to rebound and he goes and rebounds.”

Walker had a double-double of his own, with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and remembered the halftime tongue-lashing like this. “He listened, that’s the best part. He didn’t get mad or run off. He listened to me and said, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ And then he took over the game.”

Maybe it should be called “The Ben Walker Game.” In any event, the highlights are below. The MVC title game was an 8pm Monday night tip back then, and the first game between Siena and St. Peter’s ran 15 minutes long — so the highlights pick up just after the under-12 timeout, with Creighton trailing 14-13. Enjoy!

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