Creighton was the first team Arkansas faced with similar height and athleticism.
It won't be the last.
That is why the tape Eric Musselman gained Tuesday night might be the most valuable he gets all season.
Just don't show it to him immediately. The shortest, most tense postgame press conference indicates he may not be ready to see it.
Yes, it's important that it was a Top 10 team. It was also important that it was in a tournament atmosphere.
However, even more important, was that during the 90-87 loss, Creighton put on a clinic that showed quality, team-centered team basketball beats athleticism coupled with individualized AAU style play.
The Bluejays moved the ball, set screens, and baited Arkansas defenders all night long.
More often than not, especially in the first half, the Razorbacks ran the floor, made at most one pass, and then drove to the basket hoping speed and leaping ability would be the difference.
Instead, it was Creighton blocking shots, driving past guys and dunking throughout the game with a decided edge in the first half as a result of movement and teamwork.
A clear example of experience and deep basketball knowledge was on display when Baylor Scheierman delivered a shot fake in the paint around the 13:34 mark, then patiently pivoted to draw the defense tighter, creating space for Ryan Kalkbrenner slip behind them and take the feed for an easy dunk.
The Bluejays worked in this manner all night, moving the Arkansas defense where it wanted to free up teammates for easy baskets.
Creighton had 10 assists spread among five players in the first half while Arkansas only had four, all of which came from guard Anthony Black.
Meanwhile, on defense, the Bluejays opened the game by crowding the paint and daring Arkansas to beat them with quality jump shot basketball. Whether it was by design or out of old habits, Razorback players moved very little on offense during the first half.
There were moments that made for nice highlights. At one point Black dropped a crossover so hard that the term "broke his defender's ankle" nearly became literal instead of figurative as he left a Bluejay stumbling to the floor in his wake.
However, what may have been the best crossover in the history of college basketball generated no points as Arkansas slowly faded to a double-digit deficit.
It wasn't until the Razorback defense started heating up in the latter part of the first half that Arkansas started making some sort of headway.
Even with the improvement in defensive effort late in the half, Creighton was still shooting 60% with three minutes left. In the second half, the Bluejays teamworked themselves to a 62% average from the floor.
When Arkansas opted for a similar style, it was a thing of beauty. Black, who finished with 26 points, six assists and six rebounds, drove the lane, drawing defenders, and dished it to Mikhel Mitchell on the baseline for the dunk.
Black then drew defenders before floating it to Trevon Brazile right before the half to cut it to 40-34, sending a message with an alley oop way up high at the top of the square.
It was no coincidence that half of the Razorbacks' first half assists took place during a 6-0 run during the final two minutes of the half to get Arkansas back in the game.
Arkansas came out in the second half looking to move the ball more, including on transitions. Black threaded the needle through three players on the break to a streaking Council who nearly ripped the rim off the goal. He then followed with a steal that set up a Ricky Council three that gave Arkansas the first lead of the game at 46-45 with 16:10 to play
Then came teachable moments for everyone. The bench got a technical foul and everyone who touched the floor drew a foul as Creighton found itself in the double bonus with over 12 minutes to play.
Shortly after getting a ball blocked off his face, Brazile got his fourth foul on a hooking call that sent Musselman in such a rage that it looked as if he might walk off the court Nolan Richardson style.
Creighton shot 14 free throws in second half before Arkansas shot its second.
The final 37 seconds were filled with teachable moments following a Razorback comeback. Black's youth was on display as he fouled near midcourt while trying to reach in for a steal rather than continuing to play the tight defense he was using to smother Troy Alexander far away from extending an 83-81 lead.
A lane violation on Arkansas then prevented the Hogs from making it a 2-point game. Even still, Ricky Council, who was second on the team with 24 points, found himself alone from his favorite 3-point spot with the chance to tie with nine seconds left, but couldn't get it to go down.
Black hit an awkward shot for three to make it a 1-point game with three seconds left, but Arkansas wasn't prepared to get into position for the steal or immediate foul, allowing the clock to tick down to 1.9 seconds, essentially ending the game.
Creighton now moves on to face Arizona in the championship game, while Arkansas decides whether it has the heart to come out for a 9 p.m. showdown with San Diego State for third place.
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