Creighton entered Tuesday night 1-5 against Top 25 teams this season and 3-28 against top-five teams all time.
That, however, didn’t stop the Bluejays from knocking off No. 5 Xavier, 70-56, in Omaha.
“We had a not-so-great track record against teams in big games like this,” Creighton forward Cole Huff said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “We knew that in order to get to where we wanted to get this season that we needed this one tonight. We hadn’t won a game like this all year. We came out pretty hot and aggressive on defense. To their credit, they changed some things up at halftime and came out in the second half and changed some things up. But we stayed poised and we made adjustments of our own and we were able to take care of the rest.”
Maurice Watson Jr., a 5-10 junior guard, had a game-high 32 points for Creighton. Watson shot just 1-of-8 from downtown but was 10-of-13 from inside the arc, continually driving against Xavier forwards Jalen Reynolds and James Farr.
“You got the littlest guy out there going against two seven-foooters half the game,” Huff said. “That little guy has a whole lot of heart. We really fed off his energy. He really put the team on his back that second half. He made some big shots down the stretch. He was key for us.”
Huff, who scored 11, was the only other Bluejay to finish in double figures. Both teams struggled from the floor, with Xavier shooting 30.0 percent and just 1-of-21 (4.8 percent) from three. Creighton, meanwhile, shot 40.7 percent from the floor and 7-of-30 (23.3 percent) from three.
“That’s kind of our identity,” Huff said. “We let it fly, we take a lot of threes. At points this season, we’ve had a lot go in and we’ve had some dry spells, which has taken us out of some games. But this is what we’re here for: to shoot the ball. We got a lot of open looks. We have a lot of plays designed to get us open looks from the three-point line. That’s just part of our identity and we’re just going to keep shooting as long as the shots are there.”
Creighton (16-9, 7-5) plays it next two games on the road: at Marquette this Saturday at 8 p.m. ET and at Butler next Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET. The Bluejays also play No. 20 Providence on the road on March 2 and have a rematch with Xavier in Cincinnati on March 5.
“The rest of our games are huge for what we want to do,” Huff said.