No. 5 Xavier beats Creighton 98-93 for record-tying 26th win
CINCINNATI (AP) Another big spurt helped fifth-ranked Xavier complete one of the best regular seasons in its history.
Trevon Bluiett hit a pair of 3s that got fifth-ranked Xavier going in the second half, and the Musketeers matched their school record for regular-season victories by beating Creighton 98-93 on Saturday.
Xavier (26-4, 14-4) has clinched the No. 2 seed in the Big East tournament. The Musketeers' 2007-08 team also won 26 in the regular season on its way to the school's second NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearance.
''It feels great to have the season that we've had and be prepared and tough-minded,'' said Myles Davis, who led with 24 points. ''We knew we were capable of doing something like this, but it's great to actually see it done.''
Creighton (18-13, 9-9) hit shots early and led for most of the first half. Bluiett's 3-pointers sparked an 11-point run that opened the second half and put the Musketeers in control. They led by 18 before Creighton cut it to 91-88 with 1:12 to go.
Xavier held on with free throws and finished with a season high in points. Bluiett had 17 as five Xavier players reached double figures.
James Milliken had 22 for Creighton, which fell to 4-29 all-time against Top 5 teams.
''I didn't want a game in the 80s,'' coach Greg McDermott said. ''Instead I got one in the 90s. That's great coaching, I guess. We had a hard time stopping them, they had a hard time stopping us. Both teams were making 3s today, which was different from the game in Omaha.''
The Bluejays beat Xavier 70-56 in Omaha on Feb. 9, holding the Musketeers to their lowest point total of the season. Xavier went only 1 of 21 from beyond the arc in that one.
The Musketeers were coming off an up-and-down week - they knocked off then-No. 1 Villanova at home and lost at Seton Hall. They haven't lost back-to-back games all season.
The Musketeers had trouble getting their shots to fall at the outset on Saturday, missing their first four 3-point tries. Creighton took advantage and pulled ahead 14-5, with Cole Huff hitting three 3-pointers during the spurt. The Bluejays led by at least four until Xavier went on a 14-5 run of its own, tying it at 34.
Slow starts have become an issue for Xavier lately.
''In the past couple of games, we've been dealing with that,'' Bluiett said. ''Eventually we're going to put it all together. Everybody plays hard, so I don't think it's that. We just have to get more focused.''
Xavier closed the half with an 8-2 run for a 44-41 lead, its biggest of the game to that point. Forward James Farr - one of three seniors honored on the court pregame - made three straight baskets during the run.
Bluiett kept it going, hitting a pair of 3s as Xavier scored the first 11 points in the second half for a 55-41 lead that would hold up.
Xavier's 17-0 run over the end of the first half and the start of the second was its fifth this season of at least 17 straight points. The Musketeers have had spurts of 25, 21, 21, 17 and 17 points.
Xavier point guard Edmond Sumner picked up his third and fourth fouls a second apart at the start of the second half. He got back in the game and fouled out with 6:22 to go. He played only 12 minutes and had two points.
Creighton: Bluejays are 8-58 all-time against Top 10 teams, with the only road win coming at No. 4 Villanova on Jan. 20, 2014.
Xavier: Farr, Remy Abell and Kevin Coker were honored on court before the game for senior day.
Creighton: Got No. 6 seed in Big East tournament and will play No. 3 Seton Hall on Thursday night.
Xavier: Plays winner of Wednesday's St. John's-Marquette game on Thursday night.
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