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Morning After: Creighton 77, Marquette 70

Morning After: Creighton 77, Marquette 70

[Box Score]

Key Stats:

Creighton commits 16 turnovers, leading to 23 Marquette points, canceling out Creighton’s huge edge in other categories — 42-26 on rebounds, 54.9% to 39.7% on field goal percentage, and 40-26 on points in the paint.

Favorite Moment:

Saturday we saw the play of the year, unquestionably, and arguably one of the top ten plays in CenturyLink Center history. With 3:49 to go in the first half, Ricky “Ricardo” Kreklow had already made four three-pointers, and after rebounding an errant shot by Marquette, he passed it to Devin Brooks. Kreklow sprinted to the other end and flashed open as he neared the hoop, but Brooks’ pass sailed wide.

No matter. Kreklow dove Superman-style, arms outstretched in front of him, body totally parallel to the court, and knocked it back inbounds to Austin Chatman…and then slid about three feet on his stomach towards the student section. He got up, ran back into the corner, and was wide open in front of the Marquette bench. Chatman got him the ball, and Kreklow quickly rose up and drained a three before Marquette’s players — or anyone in the building, really — knew what was happening. In about five seconds the play went from a nondescript turnover to a miraculous save to a dagger of a three-pointer. It pushed Creighton’s lead out to 34-25, and earned a standing ovation from a near-capacity crowd not only celebrating an unbelievable play, but appreciating that even in a down year, CU’s players continue to hustle, play hard, and sacrifice their bodies to make plays.

You want to know why nearly 17,000 people showed up on a bitterly cold Saturday afternoon — Valentine’s Day, no less — to watch a last place team? That’s why.

Ricky Kreklow dives Superman-style to save the ball, and moments later would drain a three. (Photo by Adam Streur for WBR)

Ricky Kreklow dives Superman-style to save the ball, and moments later would drain a three. (Photo by Adam Streur for WBR)

Recap & Analysis:

Creighton’s had their share of slow starts this year, both to the game and to the second half, but Ricky Kreklow made sure that wouldn’t happen on Saturday. He made four three-pointers in the first eight minutes of the game, helping them build a ten point lead before the game was ten minutes old. He’d go 5-6 from behind the arc in the first half, with the fifth coming after the aforementioned Superman save, and scored 15 of his team’s 37 first-half points.

As Marquette’s defense began to focus on him, it opened up the middle, and Geoff Groselle and Will Artino took advantage. Groselle did his damage offensively in the first half, scoring six points on three easy baskets at the rim, while Artino did damage on the glass, scoring no points but grabbing five rebounds. And as the second half started, Marquette trimmed what had been a 37-29 lead into a 41-35 deficit in short order. They’d get no closer, as first Groselle made a nifty layup, followed by a jumper from Toby Hegner, and then a three-pointer from Kreklow — his sixth trey of the game, tying a CenturyLink Center record for most in one game — made it 48-36.

Then, Will Artino and Devin Brooks took over the game. They began connecting on a series of pick-and-rolls that were seemingly effective at will, no pun intended, and kept Marquette at bay despite the hot shooting of Duane Wilson. For the half, Artino had 12 points on 6-8 shooting, and had 9 rebounds; for the game, he had a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds. For his part, Wilson scored 20 points in the half while playing all 20 minutes, going 6-12 from the floor, 3-6 from three-point range and 5-7 from the line.

With the game seemingly in control at the under-four timeout and Creighton leading 69-59, they proceeded to turn it over on six of their final 11 possessions. As a result, down the stretch Wilson twice made a free throw to draw the Golden Eagles within five, but each time Creighton answered. The Jays made six of six from the line in the game’s final 30 seconds, and were able to pull out their third conference win of the season.

Ricky Kreklow drives against Marquette on Saturday. (Photo by Adam Streur for WBR)

Ricky Kreklow drives against Marquette on Saturday. (Photo by Adam Streur for WBR)

Quotables:

“I didn’t know what Coach was thinking at halftime after I cut my lip open. I had to get a few stitches put in, and I didn’t know if he’d want to put me back in or not. When he did, I wanted to come out aggressive. Geoff started off the second half well, and I just fed off of his energy. I did everything I could to make sure we got away with this victory today.” – Will Artino on 1620AM Postgame

“After Doc Ramos stitched me up at halftime, he said, ‘OK, you’re good for five points and five rebounds now in this half!’ I told him, ‘Alright, lets do it.’ It wound up being 12 points and 9 rebounds, so even better.” – Will Artino on 1620AM Postgame

“Me and Devin, sometimes, have a good chemistry out there and are able to execute the pick and roll well. Dev’s just so shifty with the ball and he knows that if he can put the pass somewhere around the rim, I can usually catch it. Except for a few of his 90MPH fastballs that he throws (laughs). You just always have to be ready with him. He’s so hard to stay in front of, and he got by his defender a lot today. And he was able to pull my guy in to help, and then that opened it up to flip it in to me. He made it easy.” – Will Artino on 1620AM Postgame

“I’ve been working on those close shots a lot with the coaches. I’m feeling a little more confident after St. John’s and Xavier, and I feel like I’ve been finishing a lot better. It was really just a focus thing, too. I need to keep the ball high, and not bring it down, and that’s been a big issue for me. I bring it down too much. The coaches emphasize that I need to keep it high when I catch it, and I feel like it’s paying off.” – Will Artino on 1620AM Postgame

“Ricky’s been filling it up in practice, too. We’ve been finding him in that corner spot in practice and when he shoots it, you feel like it’s always going in. I asked him if this is the best he’s shot the ball, and he told me, ‘Yes, since high school.’ So he’s feeling it right now.” – Will Artino on 1620AM Postgame

“I think shooting better today can be chalked up to focus and preparation. We had a good week of prep. We kind of felt like we let one get away at their place and wanted to get it back. We owed ’em one. As a team, we really wanted this one. And the one Monday against Butler, same thing. Everybody contributed today, and it was a great game for everybody, all around. When we play like that, we’re a pretty good team.” – Will Artino on 1620AM Postgame

“I’m extremely pleased with how our big men played today. Geoff, Will, and Zach — even though Zach didn’t play as big of a role today — combined for 26 points and 17 rebounds. That type of production is huge, because a lot of their baskets came around the rim, which meant we got some easy baskets. I thought they did a good job against the zone. I heard Will talk about catching it high and keeping it up there, and we needed that. We needed Ricky’s hot start to get us going. Marquette shot the ball a lot better than they’ve been shooting it, and some of that’s on our defense but some of it’s because guys that haven’t made shots all year suddenly decided to make them. I’m proud of our team, they’re still fighting, they’re still competing. I’m proud of our fans, they’re still showing up, they’re still a factor in the game. It speaks volumes about our fanbase and what we’ve been able to develop here.” -Coach Greg McDermott on 1620AM Postgame

“As far as the pick-and-rolls, we saw a weakness with what Marquette was doing defensively and thought we could get it into the teeth of that. Luke Fischer drags out a little too long sometimes on some of those ball screens, and we thought we could take advantage of that. But that takes a good read by the guard, they have to deliver the pass on time and in the right spot, and then the big has to finish it. We’ve worked on it a lot the last couple of days, and our execution of that was pretty good today.” -Coach Greg McDermott on 1620AM Postgame

“We’ve rebounded the ball at a pretty good rate most of the year for how we’re built, so I’m really pleased with that. Obviously I didn’t like our turnovers, especially late. I think we turned it over on six of the last 11 possessions, and most of them were just crazy, foolish turnovers by guys that have been in the program a long time. We’ll be able to teach on it and they’ll learn from it. But I’m really pleased with the way we rebounded and I thought we fought for the ball so well. We got our hands on some offensive rebounds and tipped them out to a teammate to get extra possessions, and that type of effort was really good today.” -Coach Greg McDermott on 1620AM Postgame

“I can’t say enough about Ricky Kreklow. Man…I’m really proud of him. The positive energy he’s brought to our program is so huge. Things happen for a reason in your life, and why he ended up in our lap as a walk-on really doesn’t make any sense. He’s kind of saved us. Because not just his teammates, but everybody around the program, me included, have learned a lot from him because of his positive outlook on life and how he looks at everyday as an opportunity regardless of what happened yesterday. We get so caught up in our jobs and what we’re doing, and we can look at our record, but Ricky’s taught me that that’s not a good idea. Let’s get ready for today. He’s really been a blessing for this team and it’s good to see him play the best basketball of his career at a time when he’s doing so many things to really inject positive energy into our program. And that play Ricky made to save the ball and then hit the three was an unbelievable play. I’ve seen a lot of good plays in this building and that was as good as any of them.” -Coach Greg McDermott on 1620AM Postgame

“I’m proud of the team. We weren’t perfect today, we have a way of making things interesting — more interesting than they should be — but the guys needed this. They needed a smile. And you know, we started 0-8, and we’re 3-2 in our last five games. Two of those wins are against teams that are in the NCAA Tournament or are borderline NCAA Tournament. So we have to build off of that and keep this rolling. We’ve got five more left. I’m confident our guys will continue to fight and hopefully we’ll have a great crowd here Monday night for a very, very good Butler team.” -Coach Greg McDermott on 1620AM Postgame

“You know, my wife left at halftime. No, I’m serious. Sydney had a volleyball game. We’ve had a rule, when Nick and Doug were growing up, if it was a choice between my game and one of the kids’ games, she went and watched the kids. The bad news for Sydney is, she missed the St. John’s game at home, and she missed today because of volleyball. So as much as I love my daughter I might arrange a little surprise party for her Monday night (laughs).” -Coach Greg McDermott on 1620AM Postgame

“Doug is really excited to be back. He has not been back since he left in August. Yesterday, and I’ll share this with our fans just so they know how important they are, he was at practice and Steve Pivovar grabbed him afterward. He asked him, ‘Why’d you decide to come back to Omaha during your break?’ A lot of guys go south to where it’s warm. Doug said he almost choked up when he started thinking about why he came back. Until you leave this place, you don’t realize the impact it’s had. You don’t realize how many people have done things for you so that you can get to where you are. That certainly referring to the Creighton family, to the coaching staff and everybody who works in our department. But he’s also referring to the fans. How special it is. And for him to give that message to our team, that ‘Hey, I know you hear it all the time but you’re going to miss it when it’s gone. I can attest that when it’s over, it’s over. You’re not going to experience what we have here very many places. And you certainly don’t experience it when you’re done,’ was another shout out to our fans, because they are impacting these young people in a positive way, even though they may not realize it.” -Coach Greg McDermott on 1620AM Postgame

Will Artino shoots over Marquette's Sandy Cohen on Saturday. (Photo by Adam Streur for WBR)

Will Artino shoots over Marquette’s Sandy Cohen on Saturday. (Photo by Adam Streur for WBR)

And Now, Here’s What You Had to Say:

 

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