TEMPE, Ariz. — Five points in the final minute from Mitch Ballock and 12 points and nine rebounds after halftime by Christian Bishop led Creighton men’s basketball to a 67-60 road win at Arizona State on Saturday, Dec. 21st.
The win lifted the Bluejays to 10-2 on the season, while the Sun Devils fell to 8-4 overall. It’s the seventh time in program history that Creighton has won 10 or more games before Christmas, and fifth time in the last 10 seasons.
Holding a 61-60 lead with 1:11 remaining in the game, Ballock found space along the left wing to drain an open trey with 56 seconds showing on the clock. Arizona State misfired on a layup on its end, then sophomore Marcus Zegarowski hit one of two free throws to make it 65-60 (0:35). The final fork was delivered to the Sun Devils after a long rebound off a missed trey allowed Ballock to race to the Creighton basket for an uncontested dunk, his first slam of the season.
Ballock and Denzel Mahoney led Creighton with 14 points in the game, while Bishop finished with 12. Arizona State got a game-high 19 points from Alonzo Verge Jr. and 18 points and a dozen rebounds from Romello White in the loss.
Both teams got off to a slow start from the field as the Bluejays went 3-of-12 (25%) in the first eight minutes, while the Sun Devils fared marginally better at 5-of-15 (33%) to give Arizona State a 12-8 edge. After consecutive layups from Zegarowski pulled Creighton even at 12-12, the Bluejays captured their first lead of the evening (16-14) on a bucket in the paint by senior Kelvin Jones.
Holding a slim 20-19 advantage late in the first half (6:50), the Bluejays watched Arizona State rattle off nine consecutive points to surge ahead 28-20 at the 4:40 mark. Down 30-22 with 3:01 remaining, Creighton responded with a 10-2 run of its own. The Bluejay comeback was powered a trio of juniors as Mahoney delivered a pair of shots, while Ty-Shon Alexander and Ballock each connected once from beyond the arc. At the half the Bluejays went to the locker room down just two at 32-30.
Creighton’s ball movement improved dramatically early in the second half as Zegarowski found Bishop for three lops to the hoop to push the Bluejays out to a 41-39 lead (16:23). The run continued with a pair of free throws by Alexander, then Ballock gave Creighton its largest lead of the game (46-39 with 14:11 left) as he connected for his third trey of the night.
Arizona State responded immediately with an 8-0 run to regain the advantage at 47-46 (12:31), getting three-pointers from Jaelen House and Taeshon Cherry. The two teams traded baskets over the next three minutes, but seven straight points from Damien Jefferson gave Creighton the lead for good.
Down 49-48 with 9:37 on the clock, Jefferson connected on consecutive layups to push the Bluejays back up 52-49. Jefferson’s run continued with a jump shot from the left wing just inside the arc, then he hit one of two from the free thrown line to make it 55-49 (6:38). Arizona State chipped away at the Creighton edge to setup Ballock’s heroics in the final minute, but never regained the lead.
The Bluejays will take a short break for the holidays before returning to the hardwood in Omaha on Dec. 28th as Creighton hosts Midland in a 5:00 pm tip at CHI Health Center Omaha.