#7 Creighton Men’s Basketball Wins Gritty Road Game at #22 Xavier

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Posted By: Sports

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Courtesy: Creighton Athletics

CINCINNATI, Ohio — The seventh-ranked Creighton men’s basketball team earned its best start in program history with a 72-67 road win at No. 22 Xavier on Monday afternoon. The victory improved Creighton to 18-1 overall and 5-1 in BIG EAST play, tying it with No. 1 Villanova for the BIG EAST lead.

The victory made Creighton the first visiting team to beat Xavier three times at Cintas Center, which opened in 2000, and came without the services of national assist leader Maurice Watson Jr. for the game’s final 33 minutes.

Creighton came out of the gates strong, getting baskets from all five starters while quickly taking an 11-3 lead. Bluejay point guard Maurice Watson Jr. went out with an injury and Creighton up 17-11, and the Musketeers quickly responded with an 6-0 run to even the score. Xavier took its first lead at 21-19 on two free throws by RaShid Gaston, but Creighton closed the half with a 32-29 advantage.

With Watson sidelined on crutches, Creighton turned to Isaiah Zierden to man the point guard spot for the second half, and the fifth-year senior delivered. His three-pointer with 12:51 left moved Creighton in front 48-43. After Xavier’s Kaiser Gates and Creighton’s Marcus Foster exchanged three-pointers, the Bluejays broke free with dunks by Ronnie Harrell Jr. and Justin Patton, and a four-point possession after Chris Mack was whistled for a technical foul with 9:00 to play.

Zierden sank both ensuing foul shots, and Khyri Thomas scored inside as Creighton took a 59-50 lead. Martin Krameplj pushed the margin to double-figures at 61-50 with 7:32 left. Xavier answered with the next eight points to draw within three before Toby Hegner silenced the crowd with a three-pointer. But the next trip down, Xavier’s Edmond Sumner knifed through traffic for a dunk, and Trevon Bluiett converted two free throws with 3:51 left to make it a 64-62 game.

The Musketeers tied the game at 66 on a hoop from Edmond Sumner, but he would miss the free throw that could have given his team the lead. Creighton came up empty on its next trip, and J.P. Macura was fouled with 1:08 to go. He sank the second foul shot as Xavier took a 67-66 lead.

Creighton ran a pick-and-roll on its next trip. Foster missed driving to the hoop, but Patton was there to tip in the go-ahead score with 49.0 left. Bluiett then missed a three-pointer for Xavier, and two offensive point backs from point blank range missed as well. Cole Huff was fouled with 16.7 left and sank two free throws to give Creighton a 70-67 lead.

Xavier brought it upcourt with 14.8 left and called their final timeout. Bluiett missed a three-pointer and Khyri Thomas grabbed the rebound with 5.9 left. He made both to seal the win.

Foster led Creighton with 15 points, while Hegner had a season-high 12 on his 22nd birthday. Thomas finished with 11 points and Patton finished with 10 points and nine rebounds in just 18 minutes of work.

Xavier was led by 17 points by Bluiett, while Gaston had 12 points and 17 rebounds.

Creighton returns home on Saturday to host Marquette, with tip-off scheduled for 1:30 pm at CenturyLink Center Omaha.