MEN’S BASKETBALL: No. 11 Creighton Tops No. 23 UConn

OMAHA–(CU Athletics Jan. 23)–No. 11 Creighton men’s basketball snapped a two-game losing streak and pulled away in the second half to defeat No. 23 Connecticut, 74-66, on Saturday.

Creighton improved to 11-4 (7-3 BIG EAST) with the victory and has now handed UConn (7-3, 4-3 BIG EAST) two of its three losses on the season. The Huskies played without Preseason All-BIG EAST guard James Bouknight (elbow), who scored a career-high 40 points in an overtime loss to the Bluejays in Storrs last month.

Creighton was led by 20 points from Denzel Mahoney, while Marcus Zegarowski added 15.

UConn was led by 14 points from RJ Cole. The Huskies owned a 42-27 edge on the glass but converted 18 offensive rebounds into just 12 second-chance points.

A defensive opening frame turned Creighton’s way at the 11:43 mark as UConn head coach Dan Hurley was issued a technical foul. The foul sent the Bluejays on a 15-5 run over the next 5:09 as Creighton surged out to a 25-15 edge. The key to the Bluejays’ run was finding their range from beyond the arc as seniors Denzel Mahoney and Mitch Ballock combined for a trio of trey.

The Huskies, however, closed the first half with a run of their own. Down 25-15 with 4:09 remaining, Connecticut delivered a 9-0 run to make it a 25-24 contest. The score remained just a whisker apart as the Bluejays held a 29-28 edge at the half.

The second half featured five ties and a pair of lead changes. The score was deadlocked at 44, 46 and 48 all before CU broke free with a 12-2 burst featuring five points each from Mahoney and Zegarowski. Creighton’s 12 points lead was quickly sliced in half as the Huskies made consecutive three-pointers, but following a timeout the Bluejays scored the next six points and led by seven or more the rest of the afternoon.

The Bluejays return to the floor on Wednesday, Jan. 27 as Creighton begins a stretch of four road games in five contests at Seton Hall. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 6:00 pm on FS1.