The Creighton Bluejays got right back on track Friday after suffering a loss in the Big East tournament finals to Providence. Doug McDermott and Co. were heavily tested by the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns, but prevailed in the end by a score of 76-66.
McDermott with 30 pts,12 rebs as Creighton defeats Louisiana-Lafayette 76-66. #MarchMadness— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) March 21, 2014
Creighton got off to a fast start, as McDermott already recorded a double-double in the first half, going 8-of-15 for 17 points and adding 10 rebounds. Austin Chatman played the role of a great sidekick, recording five assists and nine points in that span as well.
The Bluejays led LA-Lafayette by a score of 39-33 at halftime.
Creighton's lead at the half was a bad omen for the Cajuns, according to the team's official Twitter account:
Creighton has won 32 straight games when leading at halftime. Jays are up 39-33 at the break. McDermott 17 pts, 10 reb.— Creighton Bluejays (@gocreighton) March 21, 2014
Early in the second half, the Cajuns got right back into the mix. Elfrid Payton got hot and allowed LA-Lafayette to tie the game with 10 minutes remaining. ESPN Stats and Info's Twitter account noted the turn of events:
Creighton, Louisiana-Lafayette tied.. Doug McDermott has 23 points, as many as the rest of his team. http://t.co/ELY4wHPLbt— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 21, 2014
With a great run from Payton and Shawn Long ongoing, what we all expected before this matchup began came to fruition. The Daily Advertiser tweeted a comment from writer Chad D. Washington that summed up the current performances of each team's stars:
Shortly after, Payton and Co. took the lead, and Twitter reacted accordingly.
ESPN's college basketball Twitter account put Creighton on upset alert:
Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports felt the late-game anxiety coming on:
UL-Lafayette up four on Creighton. Oh boy.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 21, 2014
Before the game got out of hand, the Bluejays got back on track.
When McDermott wasn't dropping buckets, his supporting cast took over. Jahenns Manigat showed up in a big way in the waning minutes of the game. Creighton's official Twitter account noted his sudden impact:
Jahenns Manigat with the lay-up and the foul! Creighton heads to media timeout up 58-53 with 7:55 left.— Creighton Bluejays (@gocreighton) March 21, 2014
Ethan Wragge also got hot for Creighton, hitting shots from all over the place, as the Bluejays increased their lead with under five minutes left to play. Creighton's Twitter account marked his three-point shooting streak:
Creighton leading Louisiana 62-56 with 5:00 to go after Wragge's 4th trey. Bluejays have won 35 straight games when leading with 5:00 left.— Creighton Bluejays (@gocreighton) March 21, 2014
This trend continued, as McDermott suddenly hit a cold streak. ESPN Stats and Info's Twitter account noted just how long it was since McDermott's last bucket:
Doug McDermott has not scored any of Creighton's last 22 points. Creighton leads by 8 with 3:32 to play— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 21, 2014
Just as LA-Lafayette pulled to within four point with two minutes left, McDermott showed back up in the clutch. This was expected by Omaha World-Herald writer Kevin White—he tweeted accordingly:
The Coverboy for 3. Who else. Creighton 71-64, 1:54.— Kevin White (@KWhiteOWH) March 21, 2014
Eric Prisbell of USA Today tweeted that McDermott should get some major national recognition for his continued stellar performances:
Under the radar all year, that number 3 on Creighton (named McDermott) with a huge 3. Unheralded senior should get some pub. Deserves it.— Eric Prisbell (@EricPrisbell) March 21, 2014
After his huge three-pointer and a LA-Lafayette turnover, McDermott followed it up with a layup to put Creighton up by nine with just over one minute remaining. That is called the dagger.
Seth Davis of CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated readied his bracket for an update, according to this short tweet:
Creighton. Sharpie.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 21, 2014
McDermott finished the game connecting on 13 of 23 attempts from the field for a game-high 30 points, adding 12 rebounds, two assists and one block. The 30 points are the most ever recorded by a Creighton player in the NCAA tournament, according to ESPN Stats and Info:
Doug McDermott: 30 points, single-game NCAA Tournament record for a Creighton player— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 21, 2014
During a postgame press conference with The Associated Press, via ESPN.com, McDermott expressed his delight to be back in the NCAA tournament:
"It feels great to be back. This is what I came back for."
Chatman and Wragge showed up in a big way during the second half and finished with a combined 28 points.
Louisiana-Lafayette coach Bob Marlin explained how Wragge was a major contributing factor in the Cajuns' loss during his press conference with the AP:
"We lost Wragge. That's the guy we were concerned about."
For the Cajuns, Payton did everything he could to keep his team in the mix. He finished with 24 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks.
Shawn Long was impressive as well, scoring 15 points and adding seven rebounds and two blocks.
LA-Lafayette will be heading home early. Creighton will move on to play No. 6 Baylor in the round of 32. Baylor is riding a serious hot streak after knocking off Nebraska in Round 2. We're sure in for some fireworks when these two teams take the floor.
Creighton head coach Doug McDermott put it best during his press conference with the AP:
"A lot of crazy things have happened in this tournament. You have to survive and advance."
In the matchup with Baylor, McDermott's scoring ability will be extremely important. The Bears play zone defense primarily, which could leave plenty of open space for McDermott to operate.
If Creighton can find a way to knock off its Big 12 foe, it'll be on a collision course for a matchup with either Oregon or Wisconsin in the Sweet 16.