CINCINNATI, Ohio — A late rally wasn’t enough as No. 13 Creighton men’s basketball had its four-game win streak snapped on Saturday by a desperate Xavier team playing on Senior Day as the Bluejays fell by a 77-69 margin at Cintas Center.
Xavier improved to 13-5 (6-5 BIG EAST) while snapping a three-game losing streak against the Bluejays. Creighton fell to 17-6 (13-5 BIG EAST) with the setback.
After trailing for much of the first 10 minutes, Xavier used a 12-0 run over more than four minutes to build a 25-16 lead. CU responded with a 9-0 run of its own over the next four minutes that featured five points from Damien Jefferson to tie the game.
Xavier took a 33-31 lead into the half thanks to 11 points by Paul Scruggs.CU was paced by 10 points each from Jefferson and Marcus Zegarowski. Zegarowski also had six assists without a turnover for a Bluejay offense that shot 43.3 percent before the break and had just three turnovers as a unit.
The Musketeers unleashed an early 10-0 run early in the second half that featured a pair of scores by both Scruggs and Colby Jones to move ahead 43-33 with 15:11 left and never trailed again. The Musketeers led by as large as 13 (67-54) before CU compiled a 9-0 run to draw within four. With 2:22 left a Mitch Ballock triple in transition cut CU’s deficit to 69-66, but the Jays got no closer.
Xavier would score on its next two trips to go ahead 73-66 at the minute mark and hold off the Bluejays.
Damien Jefferson paced Creighton with 19 points and Zegarowski had a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists. Creighton shot 42.6 percent from the field and just 50 percent in 16 free throw attempts. The Bluejays did own a decisive advantage in transition, outscoring XU 19-4 in fast break points.
Xavier was topped by 23 points from Scruggs, who was playing in his final home game of the regular-season, while Zach Freemantle chipped in with 17 points and 10 rebounds. The Musketeers shot 54.2 percent for the game, won the rebound battle 36-32, and owned a 44-34 edge in the paint.
Creighton returns to the court on Wednesday with a game at No. 8 Villanova that will tip at 7:30 p.m.