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Morning After: No Blown Lead This Time As Creighton Leads Start to Finish in 83-64 Win over Providence

Morning After: No Blown Lead This Time As Creighton Leads Start to Finish in 83-64 Win over Providence

[Box Score]

Bluejay Beat Wrap-Up Show:

Recap & Analysis:

Creighton got off to a quick start against Providence on Sunday afternoon, scoring the game’s first five points. In doing so, they showed there was no hangover from blowing a big lead at Seton Hall and losing a chance for a huge road win.

“It took some time to get over the disappointment of Seton Hall, which is human nature,” Coach Greg McDermott said on his postgame radio show. “But in our game where there’s another game two days later you’ve got to turn the page pretty quick. To their credit, we were able to watch the film on Seton Hall the morning after the game and get it over with. We answered all of their questions, and made sure they understood where we needed to make some changes. Then we turned the page to Providence and didn’t talk about Seton Hall anymore.”

Toby Hegner drilled a three to open up the scoring, and then Martin Krampelj dunked on back-to-back possessions. On the first, Davion Mintz passed to a trailing Krampelj, who caught the ball near the free throw line, took one dribble, and then exploded through the rest of the Providence defense for the slam. The second one saw him curl around a defender, rise up for a lob, and throw down an emphatic dunk.

But Providence hung around, and when Kyron Cartwright found Rodney Bullock for an open three with 13:10 to go, the Friars were down just 16-14. Moments later Cartwright tweaked his right ankle and headed to the bench; without him on the floor the Friars missed their next 11 shots and went nearly seven minutes without a point. Some of that was good defense by the Jays, as they forced Providence into nine first-half turnovers, blanketed Bullock with #Khyrifense, and face-guarded Jalen Lindsey as much as they could. Some of it was also just incredibly poor shooting, too, if we’re being honest. PC entered the game making over 41% of their three-pointers, 18th best in college basketball, and misfired several good looks among their 20 misses from outside.

And though there was a nagging feeling the Jays hadn’t fully taken advantage of that long dry spell by the Friars, they did manage to put together a 9-0 run that created some separation. Ronnie Harrell was the catalyst, scoring or assisting on seven of the nine points during that stretch, including this steal and long pass to Khyri Thomas for a bucket:

CU led 39-29 at the half, and as the teams headed to the locker room FS1 put up a graphic showing Creighton’s three blown double-digit leads this year and noted their 10-point advantage in this one. Like it or not, that’s going to be a storyline for this Bluejay team until they can consistently put teams away after halftime. On Sunday, they did just that.

Similar to how they began the first half, Hegner hit a three to open the scoring and then Krampelj slammed home a dunk — and was fouled.

The Friars were held scoreless on their first four possessions, and after a three by Lindsey to break into the scoring column, Marcus Foster answered with five straight points including a three from well beyond NBA range. The 11-3 Creighton run out of the locker room gave them a 50-32 lead and brought the capacity crowd to its feet, as the Jays had effectively put any doubts about blowing another big lead to rest.

“It’s not bad if you can get it to a one or two possession game [early in the half],” Providence coach Ed Cooley said after the game, “but when you’re down 10 and they push it to 16, it’s very, very difficult to overcome on the road.”

McDermott agreed. “We executed a couple of plays to open that second half, with Toby hitting a three and Martin slipping in for a dunk-and-one. And we got four straight stops on defense. That took a 10-point game and made it 16 — if it goes the other way, they’ve got momentum for a comeback, but instead it turned it into an uphill climb.”

The Jays never led by fewer than 14 the rest of the way, and ran away with an 83-64 win. Along the way, they provided some more fireworks at the rim, starting with this ferocious dunk by Foster:

Later in the half, Foster found Krampelj for another lob dunk:

In the half, Creighton grabbed 18 of the available 21 defensive rebounds, which combined with their defensive effort (and Providence’s cold shooting) effectively iced any chance of the Friars making the score closer. It was one of, if not the, most complete 40 minutes of basketball the Jays have had this year, and it sets them up to potentially build a head of steam in the Big East. The next three games are all very winnable, with a banged up St. John’s team at home followed by the scuffling Georgetown Hoyas on the road and then Butler at home on the second $1 Beer Night of the season. Speaking of those dollar beers, will FS1’s Steve Lavin be in the house for that game? Inquiring minds want to know…

Key Stats:

Creighton’s three starting guards (Davion Mintz, Marcus Foster, and Khyri Thomas) combined for 41 points, nine rebounds, 10 assists and zero turnovers.

Providence makes 3-23 from three-point range, including 1-11 in the second half, and nearly 4 of every 10 shots they attempted were a three-pointer. That was fortunate, as they were able to score inside on the Jays. Points in the paint and second-chance points combined were 44-39 in favor of the Friars.

Standout Performance:

Martin Krampelj is averaging 18 points and nine rebounds a game through the first week of Big East play, and while those numbers aren’t totally sustainable once the sample size gets bigger, it’s incredibly encouraging to see him emerge as a legitimate scoring threat inside. His explosiveness around the rim for dunks gets the attention, but his rebounding is more important to the success of this team — as teams try to slow down the pace, being able to clear the glass after a missed shot gives the Jays an opportunity to run.

Krampelj’s emergence as a true post threat is one of the most promising things to come out of the first half of the season; while depth behind him is an issue, that won’t be a problem next year when Jacob Epperson debuts, and those two combined could turn post play into the strength of CU’s attack.

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