OMAHA, Neb. (AP) Ryan Kalkbrenner had 22 points and 12 rebounds to help Creighton beat No. 23 Providence 69-60 after nearly blowing an 18-point lead in the second half on Saturday.

Creighton (11-4, 2-2 Big East) led 48-30 before the Friars used a 25-8 run to get within 56-55 on Devin Carter’s 3-pointer.

Trey Alexander then hit a 3-pointer to start a 6-0 burst by Creighton over the next 2 minutes to give the team some breathing room.

Carter led all players with 25 points and added 10 rebounds.

Creighton’s defensive intensity in the final five minutes of the first half began to take its toll on the Friars. After trailing 29-28 with 5:54 to go before halftime, Providence was outscored 19-2 to end the half and start the second half.

Providence was playing its first full game without forward Bryce Hopkins, who suffered a season-ending left knee injury in the loss to Seton Hall. Hopkins had joined the Friars this season after transferring from Kentucky.

“Our first time playing without Bryce, I thought our guys battled, showed great resolve,” Friars coach Kim English said. “Didn’t have our best game in a lot of areas, especially defensively.”

Creighton coach Greg McDermott was happy that the Bluejays (11-4, 2-2 Big East) again were able to build a big lead in the second half.

“That’s got to be the part of the game where you look to, to see where we got the separation,” McDermott said. “I hope we can keep getting 16- and 18-point leads and then we’ll figure it out from there. It’s a great problem to have. We’ve done some good stuff to get into that position.

“As I told the team in the locker room, we just have to figure out a way, when you have a chance to step on their throat, you need to step on their throat. It’s really three or four more possessions. You score three out of four, you stop them four in a row, it’s a 25, 26 point game, and the game’s over.”

After Alexander, who finished with 21 points, hit a 3-pointer that put Creighton ahead 59-55, two free throws by Ashworth and another by Alexander got the Bluejays up 62-55 with 2:32 remaining in the game.

The closest Providence could get after that was four points (62-58). A short jumper by Kalkbrenner and a 3-pointer by Utah State transfer Steven Ashworth gave the Jays a nine-point cushion with less than a minute to play. The Friars (11-4, 2-2) missed their final six shots over the last 43 seconds of the game.


Creighton, which fell out of the poll this week after losses to Villanova and Marquette, let an 18-point second half lead get reduced to one point before hanging on to end its losing streak.

Providence entered the week ranked No. 23 but likely will drop out after setbacks to Seton Hall and the Bluejays.


Creighton visits DePaul on Tuesday.

Providence heads to New York to play St. John’s on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

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