Rushed Reactions: Creighton 100, #23 UCLA 89

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 20th, 2017

RTC is providing coverage of The Hall Of Fame Classic in Kansas City.

Three Key Takeaways.

Creighton Fans Had Some Fun at the Expense of UCLA Monday Night (USA Today Images)

  1. Creighton played with pace but also with intelligence. The Bluejays are known for their frenetic pace but every movement tonight had a purpose, and that purpose was to find smart shots. Greg McDermott‘s team attacked the paint relentlessly, resulting in easy buckets and numerous trips to the free throw line (31 FTA). Creighton also turned the ball over on only 9.4 percent of their possessions, meaning that they got at least one shot up on practically every trip down the floor. The Bluejays’ defense wasn’t always at its best tonight, but Big East teams should be terrified by their potent combination of fearlessness and efficiency.
  2. UCLA’s lack of frontcourt depth was exposed. The Bruins had trouble containing Creighton down low all night, whether it was in the form of Marcus Foster, Ty-Shon Alexander or Khyri Thomas barging through the lane. As a result, UCLA big man Thomas Welsh picked up three personal fouls in the first half alone, and frustration set in throughout the remainder of the game as UCLA gave several hard fouls which only resulted in more easy points. A greater amount of production from Gyorgy Goloman and Alex Olesinski would have helped significantly, but both fell short tonight (four points and six rebounds combined in 35 minutes of action).
  3. Ronnie Harrell did the dirty work down low. With starting big man Toby Hegner still missing time with an ankle injury, McDermott gave the junior forward Harrell his first career start this evening. Harrell put in an effort reminiscent of Creighton alumnus and 2017 College Basketball Hall Of Fame inductee Paul Silas, pulling down 15 rebounds and denying a number of second chances to UCLA’s talented offense.

Player Of The Game. Mitchell Ballock, Creighton. He may not be in the starting lineup, but that didn’t keep Ballock from igniting the Bluejays’ offense tonight with 22 points off the bench. The freshman was a constant pain in the rear for UCLA, especially as he buried a timely four of nine shots from distance against the Bruins’ zone. Ballock also showed advanced poise for his age when he poked a ball loose after an unsuspecting Kris Wilkes failed to fully secure a rebound late in the first half. Ballock parlayed the takeaway into an easy lay-up to provide some positive energy for Creighton going into halftime.

Quotable. “Offensively we did a lot of good things, but we couldn’t get the stops and that was a big key.” UCLA head coach Steve Alford, summing up tonight’s game. The Bruins allowed 1.17 points per possession to the Bluejays this evening, and the struggles on that end of the court overshadowed admirable efforts from junior Aaron Holiday (25 points and seven assists) and freshman Kris Wilkes (15 points and six rebounds).

Sights and Sounds. LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill didn’t make the trip to Kansas City as they continue to serve indefinite suspensions for shoplifting in China earlier this month, but reminders of their transgressions and the chaos that has ensued are going to follow the Bruins wherever they go. That became evident late in the first half when a Creighton fan behind UCLA’s basket waved a full-size Chinese flag (shown above) as Holiday shot a pair of free throws.

What’s Next. Creighton awaits the winner of tonight’s nightcap between Baylor and Wisconsin, while UCLA will look to get back on track against the loser in tomorrow’s consolation game.

Brian Goodman (966 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.


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