Fri, 23 Apr 2021

Xavier steps up to topple No. 13 Creighton

Field Level Media
28 Feb 2021, 10:55 GMT+10

Paul Scruggs had 23 points to lead four Xavier players in double figures as the Musketeers upset No. 13 Creighton 77-69 at Cincinnati on Saturday to end the Bluejays' four-game winning streak.

The Musketeers (13-5, 6-5 Big East) have NCAA Tournament aspirations despite having endured three COVID-19 pauses and 10 games postponed this season.

Zach Freemantle had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Xavier to record his fifth straight double-double, and Dwon Odom and Adam Kunkel each had 12 points.

Damien Jefferson led Creighton (17-6, 13-5) with 19 points. Marcus Zegarowski had 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Mitch Ballock and Denzel Mahoney had 11 points each.

Xavier was able to expand a two-point halftime lead to 67-54 on a Scruggs layup with 5:50 remaining but the Bluejays responded with a 9-0 run when a Ballock layup pulled them to within 67-63 with 3:46 on the clock.

Odom made it 69-63 with a jumper from the left corner but Ballock canned a 3 for Creighton to make it 69-66 with 2:21 remaining.

Kunkel then scored for Xavier, Creighton missed two shots and Odom upped the lead to 73-66 on a layup with 1:09 left. Freemantle iced the victory with a breakaway dunk with 45.3 seconds remaining to make 75-67.

Xavier suffered a blow before the game started when it was announced that senior guard Nate Johnson would miss the remainder of the season with a lower left leg injury.

Johnson started the first 16 games before sitting the 83-68 loss at Providence on Wednesday. He is the Musketeers third-leading scorer at 11.4 points per game over 31.5 minutes. He was ranked seventh nationally in 3-point field goal percentage at 45.2 percent.

Without Johnson, the Musketeers shot 33.3 percent (7 of 21) from 3-point range Saturday.

Xavier played an inspired and resilient first half in Johnson's absence to take a 33-31 lead.

Creighton plays at No. 8 Villanova on Wednesday. Xavier is at Georgetown on Tuesday.

-- Field Level Media

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