I guess there was more to Creighton that just Doug McDermott last season.
The Bluejays got 17 points, 11 boards and six assists from point guard Austin Chatman as they erased an 18-point second half deficit in a thrilling, come-from-behind win over No. 18 Oklahoma on Wednesday night, knocking off the Sooners 65-63.
Buddy Hield scored 21 points for the Sooners, but he fouled out down the stretch and was not on the floor as Jordan Woodard missed a would-be game-winning three at the buzzer.
Most prognosticators predicted the demise of the Creighton program with Dougie McBuckets in the NBA and three other senior starters finishing up their eligibility. But the Bluejays proved on Wednesday that they would be no pushover in a wide-open Big East this season, knocking off an Oklahoma team that many — including me — think will be a Final Four-caliber team come March.
As impressive as this win was, I don’t think it necessarily means that the Bluejays will be able to keep pace with Villanova at the top of the conference, but in a league where the power structure beyond the Wildcats is unclear, there’s no reason that Creighton can’t make a run.
There are three things playing to the Bluejays’ advantage. To start, they play in one of the best home environments in the country. The CenturyLink Center was absolutely rocking on Wednesday as the Jays used a massive second half run to erase that 18-point deficit. More than 17,000 people fit in their arena, and while it can feel like an NBA game at times given the spacious interior, that many people rising to full volume is intimidating for any team at any level.
The second part of it is that Creighton still has a boatload of shooters on their roster. McDermott and Ethan Wragge are gone, but guys like Isaiah Zierdan, Chatman and Toby Hegner are still able to fill it up from beyond the arc.
And the Bluejays also have a culture built into that program. They expect to win and they know what they have to do to make it happen.
It’s not going to be easy for anyone to go into Omaha and leave with a win this season, and when you can protect your home court, beating the teams you’re supposed to beat on the road is enough to vault a team into the top of their league standings.
One last note: This is a huge win not only for Creighton’s resume, but for the Big East as well. This is a conference without a clearcut second NCAA tournament team. A win over a team that will be in and around the top 15 all year long is going to look very good in a couple of months.