Two former IU basketball players are making a long-awaited run in a national tournament.
Remy Abell, who played for IU from 2011-13, and Maurice Creek, who was with the program from 2009-13, advanced to the semifinals of The Basketball Tournament on Saturday afternoon with a 65-48 win over team Boeheim’s Army.
Abell and Creek’s squad, team Sideline Cancer, won the first three games in the 24-team draw as the No. 22 seed. Their journey to a Final Four has been seven years in the making, although it may not be the tournament that they always imagined.
The only year that Abell and Creek overlapped on the court at IU was 2012-13, when the Hoosiers were ranked in the Associated Press top 10 the entirety of the season and were third in the nation in total points scored.
Both played sparingly, combining for less than 20 minutes and six points per contest. Abell, who was a sophomore, contributed in a limited role the prior season, and Creek, who was a junior, battled injuries every year at IU. After the 2012-13 season, both would leave the program.
That year’s Hoosiers roster was stacked with the likes of future NBA regulars Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and Yogi Ferrell. IU finished first in the Big Ten with a 14-4 mark and 29-7 overall record. Meanwhile, Abell and Creek mostly watched from the bench.
The Hoosiers were ultimately bounced out of the NCAA tournament by Syracuse University in the Sweet 16, ending their national title aspirations. Creek and Abell were on the hardwood for a total of 12 minutes that game, adding only two points.
Seven years later, there’s some March Madness magic cooking in mid-July for Abell and Creek.
In their first game last Sunday, Abell netted 17 points, and Creek put in 13 of his own. They combined for a plus/minus of 29, the highest of any two players on Sideline Cancer.
In the second round Tuesday against the No. 6 seed Team Challenge ALS, the duo replicated their performance with Abell scoring 17, and Creek dropping 13. They knocked in three 3-pointers each, and Abell’s final trey sealed a 76-66 victory.
Saturday brought another top-seeded challenge in No. 3 Boeheim’s Army, which is made up of Syracuse University alums.
As it turns out, Brandon Triche, who was one of the Orange’s top scorers from the 2012-13 team that took down the Hoosiers in the NCAA tournament, was on the roster for Boeheim’s Army. In that game, Triche tallied 14 points and snatched three rebounds.
Saturday was a different narrative. Abell racked up 12 points, while Creek led all scorers with 22 points, including three makes from long distance. On the other hand, Triche was held scoreless and committed double the number of fouls as assists.
“I’m always going to be shooting it all the time,” Creek said.
In contrast to the 2012-13 tournament where the Hoosiers were a No. 1 seed, Creek and Abell have embraced an underdog role in TBT.
“Everybody on this team believes,” Creek said after Saturday’s game. “Everyone picked against us against Team Hines and against ALS.”
Boeheim’s Army was picked apart by Abell and Creek, the most unlikely figures to present a threat from the Hoosiers' 2012-13 team. But if there’s a suitable time for improbable scenes, the duo has proved it’s in a fanless gym for a prize of $1 million during the second upswing of a pandemic.
Sideline Cancer is slated to take on four-time champions and No. 2 seed Overseas Elite at 6 p.m. Sunday. Sideline Cancer will, again, be the underdog in the matchup.
Whether or not their run continues, Abell and Creek finally made it to a Final Four, once and for all.
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