NCAA Basketball: Creighton at Marquette

No. 10 Marquette rallied from a double-digit deficit to knock off No. 22 Creighton 72-67 Saturday. The Golden Eagles trailed at home by as many as 11 points in the opening 20 minutes of action before a big second half propelled them to one of their biggest wins of the season.

Marquette (11-3, 2-1 Big East) outscored the Bluejays 44-37 in the second half behind big shots from Sean Jones, David Joplin and Tyler Kolek. The Golden Eagles Improved to 4-1 against Top 25 teams and have wins on their resume over Illinois, Kansas, Texas and now Creighton heading into the new year.

The month of December has not been kind to Creighton (9-4, 0-2). The Bluejays started the season 8-1, but have since lost three of their last four games heading into the meat of conference play. Creighton suffered a nonconference loss to UNLV earlier this month and Villanova in a Big East opener last week for both teams. 

Creighton started the season ranked No. 8 in both the AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll and now are in danger of dropping out of both rankings entirely to start 2024.

  • Marquette took its first lead with 12:46 remaining in the second half on a layup by Kolek and never trailed after Jones knocked down a 3-pointer with 9:47 left.
  • The Golden Eagles came into this game 5-0 when they recorded eight or more offensive rebounds. They had 10 in the first half, which led to 12 points.
  • Creighton star Baylor Scheierman scored a game-high 23 points for his sixth 20+ point performance of the season.
  • Sean Jones and Tyler Kolek each scored 15 points for Marquette. Kam Jones (12) and Joplin (10) also scored in double figures.

Marquette shows it can be the favorite in the Big East

Let's take a trip down memory lane to the start of the season. Marquette was tabbed to finish No. 1 in the Big East preseason poll over UConn, the reigning national champions. The Huskies looked similar to their 2023 NCAA Tournament form during the first seven-ish weeks of the season before falling to Seton Hall in their conference opener. With UConn star big man Donovan Clingan set to miss some time because of a foot injury, this could be the moment that Marquette shows it is the top team in the conference.

Through the first 20 minutes of action Saturday, Marquette failed to find a rhythm. The Warriors started poorly from beyond the arc and missed their first seven shots from distance before they settled down midway through the second half and never looked back. Kolek was a preseason All-American but this team is far from a one-trick pony. Sean Jones and Cam Jones both contributed on the offensive end, Joplin hit shots and Oso Ighodaro anchored the middle with 16 rebounds despite a poor shooting night. This is a team that hasn't played to its full potential yet ... and that's a scary thought for the rest of the country. 

No need to panic yet for Creighton

Bluejay fans should not  hit the panic button, yet. It's too early. 

It's been a rough month for Greg McDermott and company, but there's reason for optimism going forward. The Bluejays have incredible veteran experience that will help them win when it matters most. UConn went through a rough stretch earlier this calendar year during Big East play and then got hot at the right time. Creighton can do the same.

Creighton has four winnable games (Georgetown, Providence, DePaul and St. John's) before facing UConn in Storrs on Jan. 17. That's less than three weeks to get back on track before its biggest game of the season. Scheierman was awesome on Saturday. Trey Alexander shot the ball well from the floor. The X-Factor going forward will be the play of Ryan Kalkbrenner, who struggled against a relentless Marquette defense. If Kalkbrenner can play like his preseason billing, there won't be many teams that can beat Creighton come tournament time.