The Creighton Bluejays advanced to their first Elite Eight in school history on Friday night after they defeated the Princeton Tigers in their Sweet 16 matchup of the NCAA Tournament. Creighton led 47-43 at halftime and maintained their lead throughout the second half. Creighton dominated the glass, outrebounding Princeton 34-23. The Bluejays also swatted four blocks in the win.
Creighton was led by big man Ryan Kalkbrenner, who stuffed the stat sheet with 22 points, five rebounds, and two assists. He connected on 9 of his 12 field goal attempts, one of which was an impressive alley-oop he sent in with authority.
Creighton accomplished something that’s never happened in program history, but plenty of people knew how talented they were coming into the 2022-2023 college basketball season. They had a rough patch during the regular season, and it appears the team has finally found their groove in March. With the win, they’ll face the San Diego State Aztecs in the Elite Eight. Following the victory, Evan Washburn spoke with Bluejays head coach Greg McDermott on the floor.
He discussed what makes this year’s team a special group, as he’s had plenty of talented teams at Creighton over the years. “Well, they’re really connected. First of all, congrats to Princeton on an unbelievable year. That is one heck of a basketball team. Incredibly hard to prepare for even when you have three or four days to do it, but I’m really proud of these guys. I thought we dug in a little better defensively in the second half,” the Creighton head man said.
McDermott then talked about how Kalkbrenner and Baylor Scheierman (21 points, nine rebounds, four assists) impacted the outcome of the game. “Well, Kalk, he impacts us at the rim on both ends of the floor. Defensively, he provides so much for us. And I thought he really got going late in the first half and carried it over into the second half. You know, Baylor just plays at every level. He can make the mid-range, he shoots the three, he sees the floor incredibly well, and believe it or not, he’s become a pretty good defender during the course of the year,” McDermott said.
Kalkbrenner spoke with Washburn about how he was able to make his mark in the game, especially in the second half. “I mean, Princeton’s really good at establishing their pace of the game so you’ve just got to take ’em out of it. Their goal was to take us out of our pace. We just gotta be extra sharp at our pace. That means made shots, rebounds, get the ball out, and push. And I think that’s what we did,” Kalkbrenner said.
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