Field Level Media
Feb 27, 2021
Paul Scruggs had 23 points to lead four Xavier players in double figures as the Musketeers upset No. 13 Creighton 77-69 at Cincinnati on Saturday to end the Bluejays' four-game winning streak.
The Musketeers (13-5, 6-5 Big East) have NCAA Tournament aspirations despite having endured three COVID-19 pauses and 10 games postponed this season.
Zach Freemantle had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Xavier to record his fifth straight double-double, and Dwon Odom and Adam Kunkel each had 12 points.
Damien Jefferson led Creighton (17-6, 13-5) with 19 points. Marcus Zegarowski had 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Mitch Ballock and Denzel Mahoney had 11 points each.
Xavier was able to expand a two-point halftime lead to 67-54 on a Scruggs layup with 5:50 remaining but the Bluejays responded with a 9-0 run when a Ballock layup pulled them to within 67-63 with 3:46 on the clock.
Odom made it 69-63 with a jumper from the left corner but Ballock canned a 3 for Creighton to make it 69-66 with 2:21 remaining.
Kunkel then scored for Xavier, Creighton missed two shots and Odom upped the lead to 73-66 on a layup with 1:09 left. Freemantle iced the victory with a breakaway dunk with 45.3 seconds remaining to make 75-67.
Xavier suffered a blow before the game started when it was announced that senior guard Nate Johnson would miss the remainder of the season with a lower left leg injury.
Johnson started the first 16 games before sitting the 83-68 loss at Providence on Wednesday. He is the Musketeers third-leading scorer at 11.4 points per game over 31.5 minutes. He was ranked seventh nationally in 3-point field goal percentage at 45.2 percent.
Without Johnson, the Musketeers shot 33.3 percent (7 of 21) from 3-point range Saturday.
Xavier played an inspired and resilient first half in Johnson's absence to take a 33-31 lead.
Creighton plays at No. 8 Villanova on Wednesday. Xavier is at Georgetown on Tuesday.
-- Field Level Media