Xavier hoops drops Big East game to Creighton

By Daniel Kelly, Guest Writer

Xavier lost in convincing fashion at the hands of Creighton in Omaha on Saturday. The Blue Jays won 84-67, holding Xavier to its second lowest scoring performance of the season.  This was the second away game this week after an impressive road win over a ranked Connecticut team. 

Zach Freemantle led the way for the Musketeers with 18 points while chipping in five rebounds. Part of the problem for the Musketeers was the fact that Freemantle and Jack Nunge each got called for a couple of early fouls which limited their playing time. Colby Jones and Adam Kunkel scored 13 points each.

Creighton took advantage of Xavier’s big man trouble as the team’s two leading scorers in this game were forward Arthur Kaluma and 7’1” center Ryan Kalkbrenner. It was an evenly dispersed scoring game for Creighton, as they rarely struggled to score on the Musketeers.

Creighton started the season as a preseason top 10 team in the country and rose to number seven before an ill-timed injury to Kalkbrenner. The team slid out of the national rankings, but the talent that impressed national analysts is still there.

Photo courtesy of flickr.com

Xavier men’s basketball struggles on the road against Creighton on Saturday, losing 84-67. Though the game did not end in a close score, senior guard Adam Kunkel and junior guard Colby Jones kept the Musketeers in striking distance in the second half scoring 13 points apiece.

The 17 point loss was the first double-digit defeat for the Musketeers after their first four losses came as a combined 14 points. This loss split the season series between Creighton and Xavier, as the first matchup of the year ended in a three point Xavier win in the second week of January.

A cold day shooting put the Musketeers behind the eight-ball early. Big East Player of the Year candidate and scoring leader Souley Boum struggled to find the bottom of the basket.  Xavier didn’t lead outside of the first five minutes of this game, though the deficit was trimmed by a couple of small runs in the second half.

Head Coach Sean Miller made sure to give credit to Creighton saying, “I think they’re one of college basketball’s best teams”. Creighton is considered one of the tougher places to play in the Big East, and the team has bounced back from a brutal December to be considered a likely NCAA Tournament team.

The loss knocked Xavier down a hair to #16 in the AP Poll with nine games to go before the conference tournament.

The conference wide results this weekend brought the Big East to a three-way tie at the top of the conference as Xavier, Marquette and Providence all sit at 9-2 in the conference.  Creighton sits behind at 7-3 but within striking distance to make a run at winning the conference. Xavier’s next game is at home on Wednesday at 6:30 PM for a Top 25 matchup against Providence.