MEN’S BASKETBALL: Creighton Upsets No. 13 Xavier

OMAHA–(CU Athletics Jan. 28)–All five starters scored in double-figures as Creighton picked up its fourth top-25 win off the season with an 84-67 win over No. 13 Xavier on Saturday.  The 19th-largest home crowd in school history (18,277) was on hand for the program’s annual Creighton vs. Cancer Pink Out.

Creighton improved to 13-8 on the season and 7-3 in BIG EAST play with its fourth straight victory. Xavier dropped to 17-5 (9-2 BIG EAST) but still leads the conference standings.

Arthur Kaluma led all players with 20 points while Ryan Nembhard flirted with a triple-double as he turned in 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Creighton led 42-28 at halftime and led by six or more the entire second half.

Xavier got 18 points from Zach Freemantle, but he and fellow big man Jack Nunge spent much of the game in foul trouble and leading scorer Souley Boum (16.8 ppg.) had just two points on 1-of-5 shooting.

In addition to Kaluma’s 20 points, Nembhard had 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists while Ryan Kalkbrenner contributed 17 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots. Also in double-figures were Baylor Scheierman (14) and Trey Alexander (13). The Bluejays shot 56.7 percent from the field and made 8-of-9 free throws.

In addition to Freemantle’s 18 points, both Colby Jones and Adam Kunkel had 13 points for the visitors. The Musketeers shot 48.4 percent from the floor but just 28.6 percent on 14 attempts from three-point range. It was just the second time all season that Xavier was held below 70 points.

Creighton fell behind 8-3 in the opening minutes but took over the game midway through the first half. With the score deadlocked at 19, the Bluejays embarked on a 9-0 run, with Kaluma scoring the first seven points in that burst. The lead grew to 10 (36-26) on a three-pointer by Alexander with 3:50 left and the Jays 42-28 advantage at intermission was its largest lead of half.

Just as it did 364 days earlier when it overcame a 36-19 halftime deficit in Omaha, Xavier made a second half run. The Musketeers used a 9-0 blitz to draw within 55-49 with 12:12 left, but the Jays withstood that flurry with one of their own. CU’s 15-2 answer included baskets from all five Bluejay starters, capped by back-to-back three-pointers from Scheierman and Kaluma that made it 70-51 with 8:23 left. Xavier never got closer than 13 points the rest of the way.

Creighton shot 60.7 percent from the field after the break while holding Boum scoreless on two shots.

Creighton is back in action on Wednesday when it plays at Georgetown at 5:30 p.m. Central in a game that will air on the CBS Sports Network.