OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Ryan Hawkins scored 19 points to lead four players in double figures, and Creighton closed with a flurry in a 79-59 victory over No. 9 Villanova in the Big East opener for both teams on Friday night.
The Bluejays (9-3) saw their double-digit lead get cut to 58-54 with 8 1/2 minutes left, but the Wildcats (7-4) missed their last 12 shots from the field and were outscored 21-5 the rest of the way.
Ryan Nembhard had 11 of his 14 points in the second half as the Bluejays knocked off a second ranked opponent in seven days. Alex O’Connell added 12 points and Trey Alexander had 10 for Creighton.
Collin Gillespie scored 16 points and Eric Dixon had a career-high 15 for the defending conference champion Wildcats, who shot just 33%.
Ryan Kalkbrenner, the Bluejays’ 7-footer, had nine rebounds to go with his eight points, and he had four of his five blocks in the second half.
Villanova lost back-to-back regular-season games for the first time since February 2020.
There were 10 lead changes and two ties before Creighton got on a roll late in the first half. The Bluejays made five straight shots during a 15-5 spurt. Hawkins scored eight points in two minutes and Nembhard made a 3 from the wing to put Creighton up 35-26.
Creighton: The Bluejays are only the fourth Villanova opponent to score more than 60 points. They picked up their sixth win against ‘Nova since 2013-14, most of any Wildcat opponent over that span.
Villanova: The Wildcats continue to struggle offensively. They had trouble dealing with top-ranked Baylor’s trapping defense in a 57-36 loss on Sunday. The offensive struggles were more self-inflicted this time. They never found a rhythm and went a season-worst 4 of 23 on 3s.
Villanova: Hosts Xavier on Tuesday.
Creighton: Visits DePaul on Monday.
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