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Ryan Kalkbrenner scores 28, No. 19 Creighton snaps skid with 78-71 win at Xavier

CINCINNATI (AP) — Ryan Kalkbrenner scored 28 points to lead No. 19 Creighton over Xavier 78-71 on Saturday.

Baylor Scheierman scored 16 points for the Bluejays (17-7, 8-5), who avoided their first three-game Big East losing streak since 2019.

“Anytime you can win on the road in this league, it's huge,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “This is one of the hardest places to win. Especially the way this Xavier team has been playing.”

Creighton rebounded from a 99-98 loss at home to Butler and a 91-87 overtime loss at Providence.

“It’s got to be next game mentality,” Scheierman said. “There are no easy games in this league. We flipped the page and had two really good days of prep.”

It was a missed opportunity for the Musketeers (13-11, 7-6), who had won three straight games to revive their NCAA Tournament hopes.

Desmond Claude scored 22 points and Dayvion McKnight had 21 points for Xavier.

“Creighton is better than we are,” Musketeers coach Sean Miller said. “I have tremendous respect for them. To win the game, we had to be at our best, and catch them not at their best. I don't think either of those things happened tonight.”

Creighton missed its first eight 3-point attempts, but finished the first half on a 12-2 run and led by nine points at halftime. Kalkbrenner had 14 points in the half. Creighton finished the game 7 of 28 on 3's.

Kalkbrenner, who finished one point shy of his season-high, was 12-of-14 shooting.

“We were able to establish Kalkbrenner at the rim,” McDermott said. “On a night when we didn't shoot it particularly well, we found other ways to score.”

The Musketeers went scoreless for the final three minutes of the first half. That drought continued until Quincy Olivari hit a 3-pointer with 18:11 left in the second.

Since the teams joined the Big East in 2013, 18 of their 26 meetings have been decided by eight points or less with two games going to overtime.

Kalkbrenner's dunk made the score 66-46 with 9:13 left.

The Musketeers trimmed the deficit to five on McKnight's layup with 1:16 left, but Creighton held on.

“We clawed back, but it hurts,” Olivari said. “We came into the game thinking we were going to win. We just didn’t do enough to beat a good, well-coached Creighton team.”

UNSELFISH

It was a poor shooting night overall, but Creighton made up for it by being efficient on offense with 23 assists on 31 made field goals.

“That's pretty good basketball,” McDermott said.

Steven Ashworth had a team-leading nine assists and Scheiereman had eight.

BIG PICTURE:

Creighton: Ashworth has eight straight games with 10 or more points, including 20 or more in the past two. Ashworth scored 12 on Saturday and played all 40 minutes.

Xavier: Xavier is ranked second in the Big East and fourth nationally in fast-break points, but Creighton limited the speedy Musketeers to 15 fast-break points on Saturday.

UP NEXT

Creighton: Hosts Georgetown on Tuesday night.

Xavier: Visits Seton Hall on Wednesday night.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball