That’s not the best view of this facility, but trust me, the Omaha Civic Auditorium has a pretty neat setup for basketball. Seats behind both baskets, and two rows of balcony & stadium seating all around the court. The media table extends the full length on one side, with the benches and an official table on the other.
Still about 25 minutes from tip-off.
The Coyote men are warming up on the court right now, to a nice ovation from the USD crowd in attendance. Even the USD pep band made the trek down, as did the usual USD folks.
It was a pretty easy complex to find once you get downtown Omaha. We’ll see about getting out of here. But for now, I’ll try to keep you posted on the atmosphere. Maybe not as much play-by-play (unless you really want it) as I usually do.
Ran into the USD coaching staff on the way in, and things seemed fairly relaxed. As P&D photographer Clay Stoddard just said, “this feels big time.” And I would agree. This is definitely a Division I atmosphere, even if this isn’t the Qwest Center — where Creighton usually plays its home games.
Be back before tip
Still, 11 minutes to go. But I’ll share with you the starting lineups:
USD — Kendall Cutler (G), Jake Thomas (G), Roman Gentry (G/F), Tyler Cain (F) and Steve Smith (C)
Creighton — Josh Jones (G), Justin Carter (F), Kenny Lawson Jr. (C), Antoine Young (G), Ethan Wragge (F)
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After each team missed on its first possession, Creighton’s Ethan Wragge drains a three. Wragge’s a big man out there on the wing. USD then gets 2 free throws from Cain, pulling within one. Bluejays look to be aiming for the paint.
Steve Smith, a former Creighton player remember, air balls a three-pointer on the next trip. He gets it a little bit from the crowd.
Kendall Cutler has 4 quick points for USD, and just alley-ooped a pass to Jake Thomas for an easy lay-in. As I mentioned in today’s P&D preview, Cutler has really stepped up his offense of late. He’s coming off games of 18 and 21 points.
Creighton gets a pair of free throws from Wragge to take a 9-8 lead. But on the next trip, Cain gets a layup to fall in traffic. After the first media timeout, he’ll be at the line.
CU reserve Daryl Ashford has 6 points right off the bench for the Bluejays, who lead 18-15 after Witter drained a straight-on three. So far, USD isn’t have all that much trouble against this Creighton defense.
After the second media timeout, Thomas pulled up for like a 30-foot three-pointer, to some “Ooooo’s” and “Ahhhhh’s” from the home crowd. Kid drained it. Creighton leads 21-19 with 9:30 to go before halftime.
Creighton is on a 6-2 run to lead 29-22 with 7:05 left before half. USD hasn’t scored from the field since Thomas drained a three from like Lincoln. Coyotes are 7-of-21 from the field, 1-of-6 on threes, and 7-9 at the line.
Some CU student in facepaint just did end-to-end flips down the court, while the cheerleaders came out with Bluejays spelled out with signs. Just so much goes on during breaks. Plus, the CU students to our left haven’t sat down all game.
The USD coaches don’t seem too pleased with the number of open threes Creighton is getting. Ashford is up to 11 points for the Bluejays. And just as I say that, CU’s Ethan Wragge drains another three — giving the home team a 38-26 lead. Dave Boots calls a timeout, perhaps sensing things slipping away.
In the last few seasons, I’ve covered USD road games in Mankato, Minn. and Omaha, Neb., and I’m more convinced than ever that USD needs some sort of on-campus basketball arena. Nothing with this capacity tonight, but something. Ok, moving on.
Bluejays close the half on a 6-0 run, to lead 50-36 at the break. Things really felt apart for the Coyotes at the midway point.
HALF: Creighton 50, South Dakota 36
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Creighton is still hitting shots, but the Coyotes aren’t exactly folding up shop. It’s 69-57 Bluejays with 10:06 to play.
The Bluejays are 10-of-19 on three-pointers, and as someone here pointed out, they’re not used to having open looks like they’re getting tonight. Things are a bit more contested in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Not much else to say about the way things have gone for USD since the midpoint of the first half. Creighton is getting open shots and hitting them. To USD’s credit though, they’re not going away. When the Bluejays have hit shots, the Coyotes have done their part to respond.
It’s 79-60 Creighton with 7:23 left in the game.
Didn’t catch what the official attendance figure was, but it’s the second largest opening round crowd in CIT history (which is 2 years old, remember). Yeah, I’d say a decent crowd here tonight, with about 200 or so USD fans.
Massive substitutions for Creighton with under 3 minutes to play. And USD subs out Tyler Cain and Roman Gentry to nice ovations from the visiting crowd behind the bench. Steve Smith is still in there, presumably to finish out the game.
Jake Thomas and Louie Krogman are a combined 8-of-15 on three-pointers tonight, and have gone back to back on consecutive possessions. That hasn’t been the problem for the Coyotes tonight.
And that’ll do it. Creighton runs out the clock on its final possession.
FINAL: Creighton 89, South Dakota 78.
Bluejays advance in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. USD finishes its season 22-10. Coyotes just couldn’t hold off a hot-shooting home team — one that hit 12-of-23 threes and 30-of-64 from the field.
Thanks for following from Omaha, Neb. See you soon.