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Morning After: Creighton Dominant Start to Finish in 51-Point Demolition of Maryland Eastern Shore

Morning After: Creighton Dominant Start to Finish in 51-Point Demolition of Maryland Eastern Shore

[Box Score]

Bluejay Beat Podcast:

Recap & Analysis:

From the opening tip, Creighton was locked in Friday night, seemingly determined to put a vastly overmatched Maryland Eastern Shore team out of reach early. They’d allowed North Dakota to hang around a week ago because they weren’t as disciplined on either side of the ball as they could be, and piled up points late once UND tired from their pace. In this one, they had a double-digit lead for 35 of the 40 minutes, and before the first media timeout had pretty much ended whatever slim hope UMES had of competing.

The Bluejays scored 13 unanswered points to open the game, had a 28-point lead at the half, and then blitzed UMES at the start of the second with a 17-2 run. They were active and vocal defensively, keeping UMES from attempting a shot in the paint until the game was over five minutes old.

“I loved the start,” Coach Greg McDermott said on his postgame radio show. “We scored 10 points on our first six possessions, and held them scoreless. That tells you as a coach that your guys are ready to go.”

As they continued to dominate on both ends of the floor, Toby Hegner had this vicious block:

And Martin Krampelj had a pair of dunks that brought the house down. The first came in transition, with Marcus Foster throwing downcourt to Toby Hegner, who kicked it back out immediately to a streaking Krampelj for this:

The second was a reverse slam in between three defenders for no reason other than because he could. The crowd may have been relatively subdued for most of the night, but this one brought them to their feet — listen for the roar on the replay:

As part of their big run to begin the second half, Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas had fastbreak dunks on back-to-back possessions. Despite nearly 16 minutes left in the game, both players were done for the night on the next stoppage, their work complete.

“The reality is I’d have liked to play Marcus, Khyri and Toby a little bit longer tonight, but when you look up at the scoreboard and you’re up by 50 — if somebody tweaks an ankle in a game like that I’m not going to sleep for awhile,” McDermott said after the game. “Once the game was at that point we had to get them off the floor.”

Foster and Thomas combined to play just 40 minutes (19 for Thomas, 21 for Foster), and despite the short night, resisted the urge to pad their stats against an undermanned opponent. Thomas took nine shots, making five, and had three assists. Foster took eight shots, making five, and had two assists. The unselfishness didn’t go unnoticed by their coach.

“They played the right way,” McDermott noted, “which is great to see out of your leaders.”

UMES threw everything in the basketball playbook at Creighton to try and slow things down — they switched between a zone and a man-to-man defense, they mixed in some half-court press, they stalled on offense by running 20-25 seconds off each possession before looking for a shot. They weren’t successful with any of it, and the Bluejays delivered as complete and thorough a blowout as you can have in modern college basketball.

Asked for a comparable performance in his coaching career afterward, McDermott could only come up with one — his very first game as a head coach at Wayne State in 1994, a 126-27 win over York College.

“York had a scheduling snafu and scheduled two games on the same day,” McDermott recalled on 1620’s postgame radio show. “They called me two weeks before the game and their coach said, ‘We can’t come, we’ve got a game scheduled somewhere else.’ I told them we’d sold tickets, they had to come. So he sent a split-squad, split up the JV and Varsity teams and sent half to play us and half somewhere else.”

This one wasn’t quite THAT much of a mismatch, but it was close.

Key Stats:

UMES shot 23.6% from the floor and scored 36 points, both records for futility in the CenturyLink Center’s 14-year history. Those 36 points are the lowest by any Creighton opponent in 31 years — going all the way back to January of 1986, when they lost to Illinois State 35-34 in one of (if not the) ugliest games the Civic Auditorium ever saw.

Creighton commits just four turnovers, their lowest total in over two years. They outscore UMES 40-12 on points in the paint, 28-0 on points off turnovers, 21-2 on fast-break points, 41-15 on bench points, and record their seventh-largest margin of victory in school history.

CU was called for just eight fouls the entire game — EIGHT. The officiating crew seemed to sense how overmatched UMES was, and tucked their whistles away as the second half got out of hand to get this one over quickly. The teams combined for 10 fouls and six turnovers in the second half, and those 16 whistles (is that a stat? I feel like that should be a stat) resulted in this game being in the books by 8:39pm Omaha time. If “time of game” was a thing like it is in baseball stats, they might have set a record there too. At least in the shot clock/three point era, I can’t think of another Creighton game that ended in an hour and 38 minutes. Watching FS1 scramble to fill the extra 21 minutes with courtside banter between announcers Vince Welch and Donny Marshall was pretty amusing though!

Standout Performance:

It’s tough to gauge anything in a game this lopsided, but what stood out to me was that both Manny Suarez (10 points, six boards and two blocks in 18 minutes) and Kaleb Joseph (four points, two assists, two rebounds) saw extended minutes off the bench for the first time since late November.

“We wanted to get Kaleb a couple of short runs of 3-4 minutes each, because that’s what our trainer, Ben McNair, told me before the game that Kaleb could handle,” McDermott said on his postgame show. “We have to be careful because he’s aggravated the hamstring injury twice now. But I thought he did some good things tonight.”

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