For most people, New Year’s Eve is both a time for reflection and anticipation as one year closes and another begins. For the Creighton Blue Jays and the Providence Friars however, New Year’s Eve was a time to focus on the present as the two teams squared off to open Big East play at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence Rhode Island.
For the Friars, this was their first game in 10 days, having last played Texas on December 21st in Austin. Although the Friars ended their non-conference schedule on a high note defeating the Longhorns by six on the road, 10 days of rest may be too much in this era of college basketball.
As for Creighton, their last game was on December 27th against UMKC at home in Omaha. They would go on to trounce the Kangaroos 89-53 in what was basically a tune up game before the start of Big East play.
However on Monday night, both teams looked rusty early on as the first bucket came almost three minutes in. As the half progressed however, both teams traded blows resulting in a 34-31 Creighton lead at the end of the first half.
The star of the first half for Creighton was Mitch Ballock who had nine points and shot 75% from beyond the arc. For the Friars it was Alpha Diallo who had eight points and five rebounds heading into the locker room.
To start the second half, the two teams once again traded blows, as the lead alternated four times in the first 10 minutes. The Creighton three-point barrage however became too much for the Friars to handle, propelling them to a 79-68 road win to open up their Big East schedule.
“Our guys played hard, they competed, we won the rebounding battle, we limited the turnovers which has been an Achilles heel of ours,” Creighton head coach Greg McDermott said after the win.
As for his teams lights out shooting, McDermott said that was due to their ability to drive and dish to their shooters.
“We were able to get it loose in the second half,” McDermott said. “We were really trying to attack the paint and then spray it and we did a really good job making the extra pass and getting some good looks from three.”
For the Friars on the other hand, it was just one of those days.
“We’re gonna have days like this where the ball just doesn’t go in the basket,” Friars head coach Ed Cooley said. “You don’t wanna over evaluate a situation, but we have to improve in a lot of different areas, and we will.”
As for the positives that could be taken from the loss, Cooley couldn’t think any stating that both the crowd and his purple tie that complimented his shirt were the only positives of the day.
“There’s not a positives when you lose,” Cooley said. “Losing is tough, our players are down, our fans are down.”
However as Cooley closed out his post game remarks he smiled and said, “the positive thing today is, the sun will come up tomorrow brother.”