Friday, March 16, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Creighton 58, Alabama 57
By Mark Schlabach
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Breaking down No. 8 seed Creighton's 58-57 victory over No. 9 Alabama at Greensboro Coliseum on Friday:
Overview: The Bluejays rallied from an 11-point deficit in the second half and then survived the Crimson Tide's furious rally in the closing seconds to get their first win in the NCAA tournament since 2002.
Creighton had a chance to put the game away in the final minute, but the Bluejays went 1-for-5 on foul shots in the final 33 seconds. Alabama made it 58-57 on guard Andrew Steele's layup with 18.4 seconds to go, and then Creighton guard Josh Jones missed two foul shots with 8.7 seconds left.
Alabama set up for a last-second play with 4.7 seconds remaining, but then Tide coach Anthony Grant called timeout just after the ball was inbounded. With 2.4 seconds to go, Tide guard Trevor Releford fired a 3-pointer from the top of the key, but Jones partially blocked it at the buzzer.
Turning point: After trailing for the last five minutes of the first half and most of the second, the Bluejays made their move with less than nine minutes to go. With the Crimson Tide holding a 48-41 lead, Creighton guard Grant Gibbs threw an inbounds pass off the back of Alabama forward JaMychal Green and scored on a layup to make it 48-43 with 8:43 left. The Bluejays got back-to-back 3-pointers from Ethan Wragge and Jones to take a 51-50 lead with 5:39 remaining.
Key player: Creighton's Doug McDermott came into the game as the country's third-leading scorer with 23.2 points per game. He had to work for everything against Alabama, scoring 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting with nine rebounds and one blocked shot. His layup put the Bluejays ahead 54-50 with 3:44 remaining.
Key stat: The Bluejays had 14 assists (on 22 shots) with only seven turnovers. Creighton never really allowed Alabama's full-court press to become much of a factor in the game.
Miscellaneous: Green finished with 12 points and six rebounds in his final game at Alabama. ... Gibbs had 10 points with six rebounds and four assists. ... Creighton outscored Bama 26-18 in the paint and outscored its bench 18-6. ... Creighton's last win in the NCAA tournament came on March 15, 2002, when Terrell Taylor hit a 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left in double overtime to defeat No. 5 seed Florida 83-82 in Chicago.
What’s next: Creighton will play the winner of top-seeded North Carolina and No. 16 Vermont on Sunday.