No. 17 Xavier rallies to defeat Creighton 80-73


Xavier's Jack Nunge (24) dunks against Creighton during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)

Xavier's Jack Nunge (24) dunks against Creighton during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)


Xavier's Colby Jones (3) shoots as Creighton's Trey Alexander (23) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)


Xavier's Jack Nunge (24) shoots as Creighton's KeyShawn Feazell (1) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)


CINCINNATI (AP) — Colby Jones scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half as No. 17 Xavier rallied to defeat Creighton 80-73 on Saturday.

Xavier (13-3, 3-2 Big East) had six players in double figures scoring, helping the Musketeers bounce back from a tough loss on Wednesday to No. 14 Villanova with another big second-half comeback.

Zach Freemante, who head coach Travis Steele challenged following the loss to Villanova, recorded his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 boards. He iced the game with a dunk in the closing seconds.

Paul Scruggs scored all of his 13 points in the second half and Jerome Hunter finished with 10, including a coupe of big 3-pointers during Xavier’s second-half rally.

Alex O’Connell scored 22 points and Ryan Nembhard had 18 for Creighton (10-5, 2-2) which couldn’t overcome 21 turnovers.

An early 11-0 run helped Creighton take control early, and 7-foot-1 center Ryan Kalkbrenner was disruptive at the rim throughout with eight points and five blocks. O’Connell scored 10 points in the first half to help Creighton take a 34-29 lead into halftime.

The Bluejays had 13 turnovers in the first half, but the Musketeers couldn’t take advantage.

Much like Wednesday’s 64-60 loss to Villanova, the Musketeers got off to a cold shooting start. They trailed the Wildcats by 11 at the half before roaring back in the second half.

Against Creighton, the Musketeers trailed by eight points early in the second half before rallying behind Scruggs and Jones to take a 50-49 lead with 10:16 remaining. The Musketeers led by as many as 10 points in the half.

BIG PICTURE

Creighton: The Bluejays played for the first time since Jan. 5 and have played only three times since Dec. 17 after COVID-19 issues in opponents’ programs forced three postponements. Two of the games (Georgetown Feb. 14 and at DePaul Feb. 17) have been rescheduled. The Jan. 11 postponement against Providence is pending a new date.

Xavier: Balance and depth have carried the Musketeers this season. Xavier has had nine different starters and seven different leading scorers. Four Xavier players are averaging in double figures in scoring.

UP NEXT

Creighton hosts St. John’s on Wednesday.

Xavier begins a two-game road swing at DePaul on Wednesday.

Xavier’s Jack Nunge (24) dunks against Creighton during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/01/web1_127988523-54df4d28f73147f98ec03748c50c6420.jpgXavier’s Jack Nunge (24) dunks against Creighton during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)

Xavier’s Colby Jones (3) shoots as Creighton’s Trey Alexander (23) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/01/web1_127988523-34b1fc0644f64ff093a1ce534cc22500.jpgXavier’s Colby Jones (3) shoots as Creighton’s Trey Alexander (23) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)

Xavier’s Jack Nunge (24) shoots as Creighton’s KeyShawn Feazell (1) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/01/web1_127988523-941e6ee2f14148258d12229c46aa9461.jpgXavier’s Jack Nunge (24) shoots as Creighton’s KeyShawn Feazell (1) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)