NEWARK, N.J. (AP)After entering the season with a Top 10 ranking and Big East title expectations, No. 23 Creighton started 6-0 before losing six straight, including the conference opener.
With a month to go in the regular season, the Bluejays are flying high and into the thick of the Big East title race.
Baylor Scheierman had 19 points and nine rebounds, Ryan Nembhard added 15 on 6-of-7 shooting and dished out four assists, and Creighton fended off a feisty Seton Hall 75-62 on Wednesday night.
”We have different guys that step up on different nights,” Scheierman said. ”Tonight it was just my turn.”
Ryan Kalkbrenner scored 13 points and Arthur Kaluma had 11 points and seven rebounds for the Bluejays (16-8, 10-3 Big East).
”Since we’ve gotten healthy, we’ve played pretty good basketball,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. ”Things happen during the season. I think every team in the country – you see there’s been some ebbs and flows with a lot of good teams across the country, but for us to dig ourselves out of a six-game losing streak and get back into the rankings – that doesn’t happen very often.”
Seton Hall (15-10, 8-6) opened up the second half with an Al-Amir Dawes 3-pointer to take the lead before Kalkbrenner quickly tied things up at 42. Tyrese Samuel drilled a 3-pointer in the corner to give Seton Hall a 49-43 lead – its largest of the game – with 16:49 left.
Creighton would quickly fight back and the teams traded the lead down the stretch until the Bluejays went on an 8-0 run to take a 61-55 lead with 6:55 to play.
”Defensively we ran a bunch of stops together,” McDermott said. ”Then Baylor hit a couple of bombs, which gave us some separation.”
Scheierman had three second-half 3-pointers and was 5-of-10 from beyond the arc in the game.
”I thought we played well for 34 minutes, The last 6 minutes we lost our minds,” Seton Hall coach Shaheen Holloway said. ”Stopped doing the little things and stopped being disciplined on offense and defense and it cost us.”
Dawes had 19 points, Samuel had 11 points and Kadary Richmond added 10 points for Seton Hall.
Richmond hit a pair of free throws to give Seton Hall its first lead of the game at 16-15 with 13:05 left in the first half. Creighton went on a 7-0 run, taking a 36-29 lead with 3:35 left in the first half. Richmond tied it at 36 just over a minute later. Creighton took a 40-39 lead into the break.
The game featured 10 lead changes overall.
Creighton: Picked to win the Big East and earned its best preseason AP poll ranking in program history at No. 9. After some early season struggles, they have turned things around, are back in the rankings, and have seven straight conference wins. The Bluejays are looking to keep pace with No. 13 Xavier, No. 10 Marquette, No. 20 Providence in the regular season conference title race.
Seton Hall: After starting 0-3 in the Big East, the Pirates won four straight – including a win over No. 15 UConn – and found themselves in the middle of the pack for the Big East standings. If the Pirates could finish in fifth place, where they are currently tied with UConn, they’d not only get a bye to the Big East Tournament quarterfinals but also be in a good position to make an NCAA Tournament in coach Holloway’s first year. Another signature win would solidify that.
After getting back into the polls this week, Creighton has a chance to ascend with a big showdown against No. 21 UConn next. A win could vault the Bluejays back into the Top 20 heading into the final month of the regular season.
Creighton: Hosts No. 21 UConn on Saturday.
Seton Hall: Plays at Villanova on Saturday night.
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