No. 23 Creighton looks to continue its climb in the Big East standings Tuesday when it travels to Rhode Island to battle No. 20 Providence.
The Bluejays (17-8, 11-3 Big East) extended their winning streak to eight games with a 56-53 home win against No. 21 UConn on Saturday.
That moved Creighton into a tie for second place, a half-game behind No. 10 Marquette. Providence (18-7, 10-4) slipped to fourth place with Saturday’s 73-68 setback at St. John’s.
Creighton, which trailed UConn for just 39 seconds all game, used a 6-0 run to take a 52-46 lead that it wouldn’t relinquish with 4:32 left. The Huskies pulled to within 54-53 with three seconds to play, but Ryan Kalkbrenner’s two free throws secured the win.
The Bluejays held the Huskies to their worst performance from the field this season (32.3 percent), including 25.9 percent from 3-point range. Creighton shot 39.6 percent from the field, including 31.3 percent from beyond the arc, in addition to going 13 of 17 from the free-throw line.
“If you wanted to capture Big East basketball in 40 minutes, that was it,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “It was hard for both teams to score. Did we miss some open shots? Did they miss some open shots? Yes. But open shots were really hard to come by.”
Trey Alexander, who averages 13.4 points per game, scored 17 points, while Kalkbrenner, who averages a team-high 15.0 points per game, added 12. Baylor Scheierman, who averages 13.2 points per game, chipped in 11 points and nine rebounds against the Huskies.
Meanwhile, Providence’s rally against the Red Storm came up short.
After trailing by as many as 16 points in the first half, the Friars pulled to within 69-63 with 59 seconds to play. But St. John’s made four of its next six free throws to put the game away.
“I’m very encouraged still where we’re at. Thought we competed today physically,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “I didn’t think we competed today emotionally and/or mentally. So I’m very disappointed in our group on that.”
Bryce Hopkins, who averages a team-high 16.6 points per game, tied a career high with 29 points against St. John’s. Devin Carter, who averages 13.0 points per game, added 12 points for the Friars, who have dropped two of their past three games.
No other Friar scored more than nine points against the Red Storm, whose bench outscored Providence’s 23-4.
“I think we took ourselves out of the game,” Cooley said. “I don’t know what your eyes saw, but we had wide-open shots that just didn’t go down.”
In the last meeting between host Creighton and Providence on Jan. 14, the Bluejays led 41-29 at halftime and held on for a 73-67 victory behind Kalkbrenner’s 21 points. Alexander and Scheierman added 20 and 19, respectively.
Providence was led by Hopkins’ 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Carter and Noah Locke added 13 and 12 points, respectively. Ed Croswell had 10 points and 10 boards.
–Field Level Media