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Morning After: #20 Creighton Loses Battle of the Boards, Then Loses Game 87-81

Morning After: #20 Creighton Loses Battle of the Boards, Then Loses Game 87-81

[Box Score]

Key Stats:

Any time Creighton plays Seton Hall, rebounding — particularly offensive rebounding — is one of the biggest keys to the game. In each of the last four meetings before last night, SHU had double-digit offensive board totals (12 in the first game a year ago, 17 in the second, 14 in the Big East Tourney, and 11 earlier this year.) So it was a good sign, despite trailing 41-40 at the half, that the Bluejays held the Pirates to just three offensive boards in the opening stanza, and had actually out-rebounded them 4-3 on the offensive glass.

That trend continued well into the second half, as Seton Hall had just one offensive board over the first 15 minutes. Then, the Pirates simply exerted their will and dominated — they grabbed eight offensive rebounds in the game’s final five minutes, out-rebounding CU 11-2 over that stretch. The Pirates scored on each of their final 13 possessions, thanks in large part to repeated second chance opportunities that led to them having twice as many shot attempts (12) as Creighton did (6) over those five minutes.

Hell, Angel Delgado had more boards in the second half (12) than Creighton’s entire team (11), and despite playing 15 minutes in the half, Justin Patton could manage just one rebound as he was out-muscled, out-worked, and simply out of position far too often.

The rebounding (or lack thereof) was ugly. The defense (or lack thereof) was, too, though not in the way it usually is when Creighton gets torched by an opponent. Seton Hall averages seven made 3-pointers a game in conference play, and that’s exactly what they made on Wednesday — seven. They actually attempted four fewer 3’s than they usually do, so their shooting percentage was higher, but they got 21 points on three-pointers which is exactly what they get in an average game. How about in the paint? Seton Hall made 19 two-pointers, again right on their conference average of 18.5. And again they attempted fewer than normal (their average is 40 two-point shots a game).

The defense was a problem because they couldn’t defend without fouling, especially against Khadeen Carrington (who was an absurd 18-22 from the line). Creighton committed 25 fouls, a season high. Seton Hall went to the line 39 TIMES, more than double their average and 10 more than any Bluejay opponent this year. The last time an opponent attempted that many was UMass in last year’s Las Vegas tournament, when they were 27-40 from the line against the Jays. The last time an opposing player attempted 22 or more free throws individually is murkier; Creighton SID Rob Anderson’s preliminary research Wednesday night indicated no player has attempted that many in a game against CU since 1980-81.

And then there’s this. In two games against Creighton this year, the combo of Desi Rodriguez and Khadeen Carrington have now scored 110 points on 33-56 shooting. There’s nothing more to say about that except…yeah.

Standout Performance:

In the Primer we looked at the prolonged slump that Seton Hall’s Khadeen Carrington had been in. Remind me to never write something like this ever again:

“At some point Carrington will get his groove back. If you’re a Bluejay fan, the hope is that it doesn’t happen Wednesday night.”

That’s just tempting fate, and man, did he get his groove back in a big way. Carrington was 10-15 from the floor, 3-5 from three-point range, 18-22 from the line, with five rebounds, seven assists, and four steals in 38 minutes en route to 41 points. That’s the most points the Jays have given up to an opponent since Evansville’s Colt Ryan — Colt Ryan! — scored 43 in a 2012 game, and he needed overtime to get there.

For the Jays, Marcus Foster had one of his better all-around games, scoring 23 points with six rebounds and six assists. The six rebounds tie a season-high, and the six assists are the most he’s in any game this year. Outside of an all-time gaffe late in the game where the Jays rolled the inbounds pass to him so the clock wouldn’t start, and Foster took his eye off the ball long enough for Carrington to “intercept” it and run down court for dunk, it was probably one of Foster’s best games as a Bluejay.

Recap & Analysis:

Creighton led 17-11 after five minutes Wednesday night, with their offense operating at such a quick pace that the official scorer and the referees couldn’t keep track of their points — twice in the first six minutes they changed their score during a dead ball, first giving them an extra point, then taking it away.

Sadly, that early momentum went away once the Jays’ second unit came in, and particularly once the Jays made the choice to go with Isaiah Zierden at point guard for most of the final ten minutes of the half. That decision — going with experience and trust, as Coach Greg McDermott explained after the game — was presumably because of repeated defensive miscues from Davion Mintz and an inability to deal with backcourt ball pressure by Tyler Clement.

With Zierden at the point, the offense was slower, more methodical, more risk-adverse. Defensively, he wasn’t as horribly out of position or confused about where to be as Mintz was, but he didn’t do much to slow down Seton Hall’s guards either. At one point as Bluejay Twitter was blowing up about Mintz sitting on the bench and the Jays’ offense floundering with Zierden at the helm, CBSSN showed a pretty damning replay of Mintz wandering around in a defensive half-court set completely unsure of where to be or what to do, and you kinda understood why he was on the bench. Still, he was far from their only defensive liability on Wednesday night, and faced with the reality of having to win a shootout, who gives you the best chance? The guard that can push tempo and create mismatches, despite the occasional mistake? Or the guard who grinds the game to a halt and turns it into a lower-possession game, while all but removing his own three-point shooting prowess from the offensive arsenal?

The facts don’t lie; over that roughly ten minute stretch, Creighton shot 3-16, and went on a five-minute scoring drought where they missed seven straight shots with two turnovers.

Still, they were in the game because they were keeping Seton Hall off the boards and making just enough shots, the two big keys to the game. Cole Huff hit three 3-pointers in the first half, Justin Patton made 3-4 including a dunk early on, they were essentially even on the boards, and they trailed by a single point 41-40 at the half.

In the second, Mintz came back out on the floor, and the Jays immediately went on 13-5 run to take a seven-point lead, with Mintz in the middle of nearly everything offensively — he hit a contested three-pointer, he assisted on a wide-open Patton layup, he came up with a steal that nearly resulted in an easy basket. Up 53-46, Clement came in and within two minutes, Seton Hall had cut the deficit to a single point; Zierden checked in and within another minute, the lead was gone. It’s not fair to place the blame for squandering that lead on Clement and Zierden — again, the entire team, except for Khyri Thomas, played defense like matadors in a bull fight — but it served as fuel for the fire on social media about the lineup on the floor.

That set up a wild, back-and-forth final ten minutes where neither team led by more than a single possession until the final seconds. And it was in those final minutes where Seton Hall turned what had been a respectable, even laudable Creighton effort on the glass into another dominating performance.

With the score tied 71-71, Desi Rodriguez missed a jumper and Angel Delgado got the offensive board; after working the ball around, Rodriguez missed a three, Delgado got the board again, and then hit a free throw to put the Pirates up 72-71. After a Patton layup gave the Jays a 73-72 lead, they surrendered two offensive rebounds on the next possession, too — this time both Rodriguez and Delgado grabbing one apiece, the latter resulting in a layup from Delgado. Huff made one of two free throws, and then the Jays — stop me if you’ve heard this before — surrendered two offensive rebounds on the next possession, AGAIN. It was Delgado getting both this time, and led to a layup that put the Pirates up 76-74.

This isn’t the first time CU has been done in late in a game against Seton Hall by offensive rebounds. Remember the Big East Tournament loss last March where the Pirates’ Derrick Gordon missed two free throws with 25 seconds left, giving CU a chance to tie or win a game they trailed 75-73? Except for the fact that Isaiah Whitehead zoomed around Geoff Groselle to grab the offensive rebound of the second miss, then iced the game from the line?

Yeah, we’ve seen this against these guys before. And it doesn’t get any better on repeated viewings, does it?

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