MEN’S BASKETBALL: No. 8 Creighton Holds On for Win Over Alabama

OMAHA–(CU Athletics Dec. 16)–Seniors Ryan Kalkbrenner and Baylor Scheierman as well as junior Trey Alexander combined for 61 points as the No. 8 Creighton men’s basketball team earned an 85-82 victory over Alabama on Saturday night in front of a sold out crowd of 17,401 fans.

With the win Creighton improved to 9-2 overall, while the Crimson Tide fell to 6-4 on the year.

Trailing 66-63 with just under eight minutes remaining, Creighton used a 9-0 run featuring a pair of dunks from Kalkbrenner and a three-pointer from Scheierman to grab a 72-66 lead. The Crimson Tide would cut the Bluejay lead down to two at 76-74 with 2:55 left, but another Kalkbrenner basket and a trifecta from senior Steven Ashworth pushed the Creighton advantage back out to seven at 81-74 with 1:58 left on the game.

Following a dunk by Kalkbrenner that made the score 83-76, the Crimson Tide used three straight layups to pull within one at 83-82 with 3.8 ticks left on the clock. Ashworth would then sink a pair of free throws with 2.6 seconds to go before a last-second heave from just inside halfcourt by Sears rimmed out, securing an 85-82 win for Creighton.

Battling the top offense in the country, the Bluejays held their own early hitting five of their first seven shots to race out to a 12-5 lead. Following a pair of free throws from Scheierman that made it 14-7, Alabama knocked down three straight shots to level the contest at 14-14 with 12:08 remaining in the half. Neither team would lead by more than three the rest of the opening period as both teams headed to the locker room tied at 44-44. That came despite the fact that Kalkbrenner spent the final 13 minutes of the half in the locker room after being helped off after an injury.

Alexander led all scorers with 22 points, while Scheierman added 20 points and Kalkbrenner contributed 19 points, including 17 in the second half. Ashworth also reached double-figures with 12 points while Scheierman dished out a career-high tying nine assists.  The Bluejays shot 55.8 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from three and 72.4 from the free throw line.

Alabama got 19 points from Mark Sears in the loss, while Nick Pringle scored 15 points and Rylan Griffen and Grant Nelson each contributed 13 points respectfully. The Crimson Tide shot a season-low 18.2 percent from behind the arc but finished with a season-high 62 points in the paint while shooting 46.7 percent from the floor. Alabama held a 37-32 advantage in rebounds with 17 boards coming on the offensive glass.

Creighton returns to action on Wednesday, December 20 when it opens up BIG EAST play against Villanova in a game that will be televised on FS1 at 8 p.m. Central. The Bluejays will be retiring Doug McDermott’s No. 3 jersey in a pregame ceremony.