Thu, 19 May 2022

No. 17 Xavier uses second-half run to overtake Creighton, 80-73

Field Level Media
16 Jan 2022, 05:55 GMT+10

Colby Jones scored 16 points to lead six players in double figures as No. 17 Xavier used a strong second-half effort to edge visiting Creighton 80-73 in a Big East battle in Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon.

The Musketeers (13-3, 3-2 Big East) had lost two of their previous three games -- both against conference-leading Villanova -- and appeared destined for another setback in this one. However, a 19-4 run down the stretch turned the tables on the Bluejays (10-5, 2-2), who now have lost back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Paul Scruggs chipped in 13 points and Zach Freemantle had 13 and 11 rebounds for Xavier, which prevailed despite not shooting particularly well from the floor (43.1 percent), the 3-point line (5 of 16) or the free-throw line (19 of 29).

Adam Kunkel and Jack Nunge registered 12 points apiece for the Musketeers, while Jerome Hunter had 10 points.

The Bluejays, who committed 21 turnovers, were paced by Alex O'Connell with 22 points and Ryan Nembhard with 18 points. Ryan Hawkins pitched in 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Creighton led by five with about 11 1/2 minutes left, when Freemantle's dunk ignited the decisive sequence for Xavier. Jones made a couple of baskets to put the hosts in front and, after the Bluejays tied it briefly, Nunge and Jones combined to help give Xavier its first double-digit lead of the game.

The Bluejays knocked down two 3-pointers in the final minute to keep things interesting, but the Musketeers made enough free throws to secure the victory.

Creighton shot a crisp 60 percent in the first half and led 34-29 at the break. Xavier only shot 36.7 percent in the opening 20 minutes but stayed close by forcing 13 turnovers in the half.

O'Connell had 10 first-half points to lead all scorers. His dunk tied the game at 7-7 after the Bluejays originally trailed 7-0, and his jumper capped a 15-2 run that gave the visitors an early 15-9 advantage.

Arthur Kaluma's bucket right before the halftime buzzer created the five-point edge at intermission.

--Field Level Media

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