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Central Michigan takes out Creighton in 1st round

Salt Lake City - An upset special themselves last year when they took out Florida as a No. 12 seed, the Creighton Blue Jays discovered just how difficult it is to play as a favorite in the NCAA Tournament Thursday night.

The sixth-seeded Blue Jays stunningly fell 26 points behind Central Michigan early in the second half, and while they clawed to within two points with 1:50 remaining, the Blue Jays couldn't pull off a miracle comeback win, falling 79-73.

Senior Chippewa guard Mike Manciel delivered a fantastic performance with 29 points, outshining Creighton's highly acclaimed Kyle Korver, whose 21 points were not enough to extend his final season.

"I told the guys were are in it to the finish," Manciel said. "I had open looks and stepped up and tried to knock them down."

Holding a 16-point half-time lead, the Chippewas gave no quarter to the higher-seeded Blue Jays and began the closing stanza on a 12-2 run. When the dust settled, Central Michigan led 50-24.

"We don't do a bunch of Knute Rockne half-time speeches," Chippewa head coach Jay Smith said. "Our guys have taken great ownership of coming out and playing hard every time they step on the floor.... We just came out and stayed in attack mode."

Facing a 26-point deficit, Creighton tried the best it could to make the game competitive. The Blue Jays responded with a 16-4 run, which included two Korver three-pointers.

A heavily Creighton-favoring crowd spurred on the No. 6 seed with the loudest cheers of the night.

The two sides then traded long-distance baskets, as Korver continued to stroke it from outside. A thunderous dunk drew Creighton to within 57-45, and after a three-point play the Blue Jays had cut the once 26-point edge down to nine.

Creighton head coach Dana Altman applauded his side's tenacity.

"They showed their character in how they fought back and didn't quit," he said. "I'm proud of them for that."

Combined with a successful transition offense, which alternated from fastbreaks to patient half-court attacks, Central Michigan was able to hold on for the win.

"It's disappointing to finish our season like that," Altman said. "This was an outstanding group of guys. We were flat, we just weren't ready to play tonight, and that's my fault."

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