The Creighton Bluejays opened up Missouri Valley Conference play with national media members inside CenturyLink Center Omaha, looking for a glimpse at the 21st ranked team in the country.
It was the visiting Missouri State Bears, however that left the strongest impression, on Wednesday night, as they left Omaha with the 77-65 upset.
National college basketball writer, Jeff Goodman, who was in attendance, responded to Bears' forward, Kyle Weems' 31 point, seven rebounds and two block performance, by using Weems' picture as his avatar on Twitter. Goodman does so to award the most impressive performance on a nightly basis.
Weems, whose 31 points was good for a new career high, was not the only Bear to top their previous single-game point total. MSU guard Anthony Downing caught fire and ended up with 26 points on 11-14 shooting from the field. Creighton head coach, Greg McDermott, acknowledged their successes, and his own team's shortcomings, following the game.
"I think Weems and Downing had 40 of their 45 points in the second half. That's been a broken record, we just don't have a good enough defender to put on somebody that is capable of getting it going. It was obvious against Northwestern, their two best players going off on us. Tonight, their two best scorers did it again," said McDermott.
The Bluejays played sloppily for most of the first half, turning the ball over eight times, but thanks to making six of eight three-pointers, and holding Weems to six first half points, they were able to take a 34-32 lead into intermission. While Creighton had only three giveaways in the second half, they lacked focus on the defensive end for the final twenty minutes, allowing the Bears to score 45 second half points. At times, it seemed the Bluejays were unable to get a stop, when they needed one the most.
Senior, point guard, Antoine Young addressed the Bluejays defensive struggles.
"We all got to pick it up on that end, I don't think there is anyone to single out. Obviously, we got to pay more attention to the defensive end, than we do the offensive end. Our attention was all offense tonight," said Young.
The Bears looked to have been the ones dialed in defensively. While Bluejay hero Doug McDermott's final stat line of 19 points and 12 rebounds still impresses, the Bears were able to make McDermott and much less efficient scorer, as he shot an uncharacteristically low field goal percentage over 37 minutes of play. Young also appeared frustrated by Missouri State's physical and relentless defense has he shot 3-13 from the floor, Wednesday night. McDermott credited the Bears for making it difficult on he and his teammates.
"They did a great job of clogging up the lane. I think we learned that a lot in the first half, when we were driving in there, there were five guys collapsing and I think we have to do a better job of finding our shooters on the perimeter. We didn't do a very good job of that, and it is all of our fault, but they played really well defensively," said McDermott.
The loss comes at a tough time for the Bluejays. In order to prevent an 0-2 start to conference play, Creighton must win on the road, in arguably the toughest place to play in the Valley, when they face Wichita State on New Year's Eve. Coach McDermott acknowledges that his team has a rather important game following a disappointing loss.
"We don't need to play well there, we need to win there. We've got to find a way to win somewhere that not many people are going to win, because we lost one at home," said McDermott.