Bluiett has 24, No. 10 Xavier routs No. 25 Creighton 92-70
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)
By JOE KAY
AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI (AP) After consecutive road losses, No. 10 Xavier was back home and back in form.
Trevon Bluiett emerged from his shooting slump with 24 points, Kaiser Gates responded to getting dropped from the starting lineup by scoring 16, and the Musketeers routed No. 25 Creighton 92-70 on Saturday.
The Musketeers (16-3, 4-2 Big East) shook up their starting lineup after back-to-back road losses at Providence and No. 1 Villanova . They had this one in hand all the way, pulling ahead by 27 points midway through the second half.
"I think we played with a little incentive today," coach Chris Mack said. "I think we played with our backs against the wall."
The Bluejays (14-3, 4-2) gave up a season high in points and took their most lopsided loss. All of Creighton's losses have come against teams that were ranked in the Top 25 at the time - Baylor, Gonzaga and Seton Hall along with Xavier.
"This is different for us," coach Greg McDermott said. "This is really the first time we've gotten spanked, so it's a new experience for us and hopefully something we're committed to not being part of the rest of the season."
Marcus Foster and Mitch Ballock scored 16 points apiece for the Bluejays.
"We made a lot of mental errors," Ballock said. "We got a little lazy with the ball. I think we underestimated Xavier."
Gates was dropped from the starting lineup after scoring a total of three points and taking only four shots during the two road losses. He came off the bench and had 11 points with seven rebounds as Xavier surged ahead 50-34 by halftime, the most points the Bluejays have allowed in an opening half this season.
"I came off the bench because I wasn't producing properly," Gates said. "I just wanted to play hard. I was a little more aggressive. I didn't miss open shots."
Mack got his 202nd win as Xavier's coach, tying Pete Gillen for the school record. Mack played for Gillen at Xavier.
"It's really about the players," Mack said.
Creighton: The Bluejays lead the Big East in scoring defense, allowing 73 points per game. They've held eight teams under 70 points. Xavier hit the 70-point mark with 10 minutes left.
Xavier: The Musketeers need their top scorer to get back in form. Bluiett has fought through shoulder and knee injuries and was shooting only 34 percent from the field in the last four games. He went 9 of 16 from the field, including 5 of 7 from beyond the arc.
Creighton was trying to become the first visiting team with four victories at the Cintas Center, which opened in 2000. Instead, Xavier improved to 12-0 at home this season.
Creighton's front line had a rough day. Forwards Martin Krampelj and Toby Hegner fouled out with more than 5 minutes left. The combined for only six points and eight rebounds. Krampelj had double-doubles in four of the last five games.
"We got bullied today," McDermott said.
Xavier fell into a habit of slow starts - set up by missed shots - at the start of games. They missed their first six shots Saturday, but relaxed once a couple of them fell. Xavier wound up shooting 48 percent from the field and going 11 of 24 from beyond the arc, the most 3s it has made in a Big East game this season.
Xavier had 14 assists in the big opening half, more than it had in either of the last two games overall.
GIVING IT AWAY
Creighton was among the league's best at taking care of the ball, but wound up with a season-high 20 turnovers, which set up 21 of Xavier's points.
"We didn't really have it from the start," McDermott said. "We had five turnovers before the first media timeout. We've been one of the best in the country at not turning it over. Some of it was the pressure and the length of Xavier, but some of it was our foolishness."
Forward Tyrique Jones hurt his right hand in practice and didn't play.
The Bluejays host No. 13 Seton Hall on Wednesday. They lost at Seton Hall 90-84 on Dec. 28 in their league opener.
The Musketeers host St. John's on Wednesday.
More AP college basketball: https://collegebasketball.ap.org
Updated January 13, 2018