Illinois State 75, Creighton 72

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OMAHA, Neb. -- It was a historic day for Illinois State, but it sure wasn't easy.
For the first time since 1985, the Redbirds beat a ranked-opponent on the road with a 75-72 win over the No. 16-ranked Creighton Bluejays.
The win also ended Illinois State's six-game losing streak to Creighton. It was the Bluejays' second straight loss.
Leading 64-60 with just over three minutes left, Illinois State turned the ball over at midcourt after a time out.
Creighton was unable to convert on numerous chances to even up the game and the Redbirds' Johnny Hill eventually extend their lead to five with two free throws with 11 seconds left.
Creighton's Grant Gibbs was able to hit two quick free throws to again make the game a one-possession game with under seven seconds left.
Initially, Creighton's full-court press caused the Redbirds to use a timeout. After the adjustments, Illinois State was able to break the press, but a John Wilkins' double-dribble while trying to put the game away gave the Bluejays one last chance with one second left. Luckily for Illinois State, the miracle shot failed.
After scoring just four points in the first half, Illinois State's Tyler Brown exploded with 23 points in the second half and finished with 27. Doug McDermott led Creighton with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
After Brown hit back-to-back threes to give Illinois State a 48-44 lead early in the second half, Creighton got a spark from an unlikely source.
Freshman Nevin Johnson, who has averaged a mere five minutes of playing time this season over 16 games, made three straight baskets in 45 seconds to give Creighton its lead back.
Illinois State responded and carried the lead for the next seven minutes. However, the Redbirds could never extend their lead to more than four-allowing Creighton to linger around.
Creighton might not have shot well in the first half, but they still managed to find the way to end the first half with a 39-36 lead over Illinois State.
Creighton might not have shot well in the first half, but it still managed to find the way to go into intermission with a 39-36 lead over Illinois State.
Creighton, which has been shooting 51.7 percent from the field coming into Saturday's game, shot an uncharacteristically low 33.3 percent clip in the first half.
Despite struggling to find their stroke, the Bluejays dominated the Redbirds on the glass and took advantage of their chances at the free throw line. Creighton outrebounded Illinois State 27-14 in the first half and also converted on 13 of 14 first half free throw attempts.
Leading 24-23 at the officials timeout with just under eight minutes left in the half, Creighton's Doug McDermott earned a trip to the line. Furthermore, the call earned the Redbirds bench a technical foul, giving McDermott four free throws.
He converted on all four and started an 8-2 Creighton run. McDermott led the Bluejays with 17 points, seven rebounds, and two assists in the first half.
After Creighton's run, Illinois State went on a six-point run of its own to tie the game at 31-31. Forward Jackie Carmichael led the Redbirds in the first half with 12 points while Johnny Hill added 10.
NOTES: Creighton is still one win away from having at least 10 Missouri Valley Conference games for the 17th consecutive season. ... Creighton was a perfect 16-0 when it leads at the half coming into the game, but is now 16-1. ... Illinois State's Jackie Carmichael passed Redbird Head Coach Dan Muller in the Illinois State record books in the first half. Carmichael eclipsed Muller's 1,445 career points and became the 10th leading scorer in school history. ... A crowd of 18,494 people attended the game. The number was the second largest ever at the CenturyLink Center Omaha.

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