March Madness was mad today in one of the first games Friday after a mediocre Friday, in terms of madness. The Creighton Bluejays, up against the Alabama Crimson Tide, hung on to win 58-57 in one of the best games of the tournament so far. Creighton, who went from down 11 to up 7 midway through the second half, held up the lead in those final seconds as Alabama’s last shot attempt was partially blocked by Josh Jones.
The Bluejays were led by non other than Doug McDermott, the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, who had 16 points and 9 rebounds. Grant Gibbs chipped in 10 as the only other scorer for the Jays who went to double digits.
Alabama did a great job to keep the Jays, the most efficient team on offense this season, well below their season average. But it was their own offensive ineptitude that kept them from winning this game. The Crimson Tide went well over 5 minutes late in the second half without scoring a point, which cost the Tide the game.
They were, however, almost bailed out by Creighton’s own poor free throw shooting, where they missed three of four in the last 30 seconds of the game that could have closed it out.
Creighton showed why they are one of the best offensive teams in the nation by shooting 9 for 21 from behind the three point line, shooting 43%. Had they not been able to make so many outside shots, I’m not sure they would have been able to get anything going inside that would have allowed them to crawl back into the game.
The Jays were also able to out-rebound the bigger SEC opponent, 30-29.
The Player of the Game definitely goes to Grant Gibbs. Doug McDermott may get most of the notoriety, but Gibbs kept plays alive offensively and came up with steals defensively to keep the Jays in the game. He even pulled one of the oldest tricks in the book, throwing the ball off the back of an Alabama player on the inbound and then scoring.
Creighton survives to play the winner of North Carolina and Vermont coming up soon.
Follow Paul Troupe on Twitter @gamin4HIM