MEN’S BASKETBALL: No. 19 Creighton Survives Road Test at Xavier

CINCINNATI, Ohio –(CU Athletics Feb. 10)—Ryan Kalkbrenner had 28 points on 12-of-14 shooting as No. 19 Creighton completed a regular-season sweep of Xavier on Saturday with a 78-71 win in front of a sellout crowd of 10,555 at Cintas Center.

Creighton snapped a two-game losing streak to up its record to 17-7 on the year and 8-5 in BIG EAST play, while Xavier slipped to 13-11 (7-6 BIG EAST) with the rare home loss.

The Xavier turned a steal on the opening possession into a breakaway dunk by QuincyOlivari and rode that momentum through the first four minutes to take an 11-4 lead. CU missed its first eight three-point attempts and fell behind by as much as 13-4 before responding with a 12-6 run that featured three-pointers by seniors Baylor Scheierman and Francisco Farabello in addition to three baskets by Kalkbrenner inside. Kalkbrenner had six baskets in a span of eight minutes, including a fifth lob to him as Creighton took its first lead at 26-25.

Creighton continued its defensive energy in the final minutes of the first half, holding the Musketeers to 1-for-13 shooting in the last six minutes, to take a 38-29 lead into the intermission. Kalkbrenner had 14 points and two blocks in the first half, while Baylor Scheierman contributed nine points, four rebounds and four assists. The Bluejays led 20-18 on the glass and dished 14 assists on 17 field goals in the opening stanza to help offset 11 points by Xavier’s Desmond Claude.

CU scored the opening six points of the second half on two Trey Alexander drives and another hook shot from rapidly build a 44-29 lead and lead to a timeout from Xavier coach Sean Miller. After a Quincy Olivari three-pointer stopped the bleeding, it was only temporary, as CU got back-to-back dunks fromKalkbrenner to move in front 48-32 as Xavier burned its penultimate timeout. Xavier countered with nine points in a row to send the crowd into a frenzy temporarily as the hosts drew within eight points  at 49-41.

The rally was short-lived with Creighton going on a 17-5 run to lead 66-46, and the final 12 of those points coming from Kalkbrenner or Scheierman.

Xavier drew within five points (74-69) with just over a minute left on three baskets by Dayvion McKnight. But Ashwworth and McKnight would trade foul shots and Xavier never got any closer than five the rest of the way.

In addition to Kalkbrenner’s big day, Scheierman approached a triple-double with 16 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists and Alexander had 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Creighton shot 48.4 percent from the field and won the rebound battle 37-33. CU won the paint battle 40-30 and scored 24 fast break points. The Jays dished 23 assists on 31 made field goals.

Xavier was led by 22 points from Desmond Claude, 21 from McKnight and 18 by Olivari. The Musketeers shot 42.4 percent from the field and made 9-of-11 free throws.

Creighton returns to the court on Tuesday when it hosts Georgetown at 7:30 p.m. on FS1.