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Creighton Bluejays vs Xavier Musketeers Pick & Prediction, Sat Jan 15 12:00 PM

NCAAB | BASKETBALL
TV:
Logo Creighton Bluejays
VS
Logo Xavier Musketeers
145.5
OPENNER
-8.5

142.5o -110
CURRENT
-9 -110

+365
MONEYLINE
-460

73
SCORE
80

Coming off its first Big East Conference loss of the season, Creighton travels to Cincinnati to face No. 17 Xavier on Saturday afternoon.

Both teams have only played twice this month as the pandemic continues to affect the league schedule.

Both have already played Villanova twice this season, with Creighton (10-4, 2-1 Big East) splitting the season series and Xavier (12-3, 2-2) losing both games.

And both teams come into this contest having lost to the Wildcats in their previous game.

A more physical and disciplined Villanova team blasted the Bluejays 75-41 on Jan. 5, handing Wildcats head coach Jay Wright his 500th career win.

"Their defense was really good. We got second looks at our place and we didn't get many tonight," Creighton head coach Greg McDermott said. " We looked like a bunch of young kids tonight."

McDermott was measured in his analysis of his team's performance and how they go forward. "Lots of lessons this year and everything's a lesson. This film will be a great learning experience. ... We can look back at our preparation and figure out what we can do differently."

Creighton crushed Villanova, 79-59, on Dec 17 in Omaha, Neb.

Xavier, meanwhile, was unable to hold build on an eight-point halftime lead in its first meeting with the Wildcats, falling 71-58 on the road on Dec. 21.

Xavier's inability to adjust against Villanova's aggressive defense stifled ball movement and led to poor shots and turnovers.

In its home rematch against Villanova on Wednesday, an 11-point halftime deficit was too much to overcome for the Musketeers as they lost 64-60. It was Xavier's first home loss this season.

The Wildcats led by 17 in the first half before Xavier fought back to tie the game 56-56 with 2:17 left on the clock.

"I told our guys, you can't dig yourself a hole against a really good team," Musketeers coach Travis Steele said.

Xavier owns a plus-12.5 points per game scoring margin while Creighton comes in with a much narrower plus-4.1 scoring margin.

Four players are averaging in double figures for the Bluejays. Ryan Hawkins (13.4), Ryan Kalkbrenner (12.3), Ryan Nembhard (12.1) and Alex O'Connell (11.9) account for 70 percent of Creighton's 70.4 scoring average.

Hawkins also leads the team in rebounding, hauling down 7.4 caroms per game, primarily on the defensive end.

With a minus-26 turnover margin in its four losses, Creighton continues to fumble scoring opportunities.

Xavier's overall balance is evident on offense, as seven different players have led the team in scoring this season.

Defensively the Musketeers are plus-8.5 in rebounding margin per game and lead the Big East in field goal percentage defense (.394).

The Musketeers are capable of scoring from the backcourt and frontcourt. Nate Johnson leads the team with 12.7 points per game thanks to 46.4 percent shooting from 3-point range. Jack Nunge averages 12.1 points to go along with 7.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.

--Field Level Media

PREDICTION
Creighton Bluejays
67
76
Xavier Musketeers

Creighton Bluejays vs. Xavier Musketeers Recap JAN 15TH 2022

Colby Jones scored 16 points to lead six players in double figures as No. 17 Xavier used a strong second-half effort to edge visiting Creighton 80-73 in a Big East battle in Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon.

The Musketeers (13-3, 3-2 Big East) had lost two of their previous three games -- both against conference-leading Villanova -- and appeared destined for another setback in this one. However, a 19-4 run down the stretch turned the tables on the Bluejays (10-5, 2-2), who now have lost back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Paul Scruggs chipped in 13 points and Zach Freemantle had 13 and 11 rebounds for Xavier, which prevailed despite not shooting particularly well from the floor (43.1 percent), the 3-point line (5 of 16) or the free-throw line (19 of 29).

Adam Kunkel and Jack Nunge registered 12 points apiece for the Musketeers, while Jerome Hunter had 10 points.

The Bluejays, who committed 21 turnovers, were paced by Alex O'Connell with 22 points and Ryan Nembhard with 18 points. Ryan Hawkins pitched in 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Creighton led by five with about 11 1/2 minutes left, when Freemantle's dunk ignited the decisive sequence for Xavier. Jones made a couple of baskets to put the hosts in front and, after the Bluejays tied it briefly, Nunge and Jones combined to help give Xavier its first double-digit lead of the game.

The Bluejays knocked down two 3-pointers in the final minute to keep things interesting, but the Musketeers made enough free throws to secure the victory.

Creighton shot a crisp 60 percent in the first half and led 34-29 at the break. Xavier only shot 36.7 percent in the opening 20 minutes but stayed close by forcing 13 turnovers in the half.

O'Connell had 10 first-half points to lead all scorers. His dunk tied the game at 7-7 after the Bluejays originally trailed 7-0, and his jumper capped a 15-2 run that gave the visitors an early 15-9 advantage.

Arthur Kaluma's bucket right before the halftime buzzer created the five-point edge at intermission.

--Field Level Media

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