GEORGE TOWN, Grand Cayman — Ty-Shon Alexander had a career-high 36 points and earned MVP honors as Creighton won the Cayman Islands Classic with an 87-82 win over No. 16 Clemson on Wednesday, Nov. 21.
Both teams are now 5-1 on the season.
Alexander’s 36 points were the most by a Creighton player since Doug McDermott scored a career-high 45 points on March 8, 2014 vs. Providence as part of a memorable Senior Night that also saw the National Player of the Year eclipse 3,000 career points. He made 7-of-12 three-pointers and 11-of-11 shots at the foul line in 37 minutes of work.
Creighton wasted no time in taking the lead early, as its first 20 points came from sophomores and freshmen while taking a 20-12 lead and force a Tiger timeout. After the Tigers closed the gap to two points at 26-24, the Bluejays answered with six straight points by Alexander for a 32-24 cushion. The sophomore from Charlotte, N.C., scored 19 points in the first half, one off his career-high, as the Bluejays led 45-35 at the break. The Jays made 58.6 percent of their shots, outscored Clemson 18-3 from behind the arc and won the rebound battle 18-11. Elijah Thomas scored nine points for Clemson before the break, but was saddled by two fouls and played just 10 minutes.
After the Bluejays took their largest lead of the night at 50-37 with 18:31 to go on an alley-oop to Martin Krampelj, the Tigers mounted a comeback. Clemson used a 14-5 run to close within four at 55-51 with 11:52 remaining. The Jays countered with a 6-0 run in less than a minute. Alexander made two free throws on a flagrant foul, and Jacob Epperson threw down an alley-oop to make it a four-point possession. After a stop on the defensive end, Epperson’s short jumper rolled in for the 61-51 lead.
Clemson got as close as five after two free throws by Marcquise Reed (78-73) with 1:04 to play. Alexander was fouled with 1:00 remaining and sank both, and Mintz added a foul sho with 50.5 left to give CU a 81-75 advantage. Ballock then drilled a free throw with 41.0 left and another defensive stop gave CU the ball back in time for Mintz to make a free throw. Reed answered with a three-point play and after a turnover in the backcourt, the Tigers made it a three-point game with 22.2 left.
Mintz was fouled with 20.3 left and sank two shots to put CU up 85-80. He then threw down a dunk with seven seconds left for the exclamation point.
Creighton shot 55.8 percent from the field and made 10 or more three-pointers for the third straight day. The Bluejay reserve corps outscored the Clemson bench by a 25-13 count.
Reed led Clemson with 27 points, including 13 of the Tigers’ final 15. Clemson shot 53.4 percent for the game and won the rebound battle, 31-27. David Skara cleaned the glass 11 times and added eight points for Clemson.
Creighton returns to the court on Wednesday when it hosts defending Big Sky Conference champion Montana (4-1) at 7:30 p.m.
Alexander was named the MVP of the All-Tournament Team after averaging 22.3 points in the three victories while making 14-of-29 three-point attempts. He was joined on the All-Tournament Team by fellow sophomore Damien Jefferson, who pumped in 13.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game on 18-of-24 shooting from the field.
Creighton’s tournament title was its second in three years (Paradise Jam, 2016) and its seventh in nine years under Greg McDermott.