A new career high for Oumar Ballo in points (30) and rebounds (13) lifts Arizona past Creighton.
The first half of the game between the Bluejays and the Wildcats could be encapsulated by an Arizona player, Oumar Ballo. Ballo finished the first half with 16 points and 9 rebounds for the Wildcats. Both Ballo and Azuola Tubelis helped Arizona control the color from the jump and seemingly control the game. Arizona led just under 17 minutes in the first half and let Creighton lead by just over 2 minutes. Arizona shot subpar splits in the first half, .444/.333/.667, but managed 10 more shots than Creighton. That gap was due to a key stretch in the first half. Creighton turned the ball over five times in about four minutes, allowing Arizona to extend their lead to as many as eleven. Creighton ended the half with nine turnovers and just six assists from ten field goals. The Bluejays failed to score a field goal at the last 3:13 of the half. Trey Alexander had a great offensive half and went into the break with 12 points. Ryan Kalkbrenner didn’t seem like himself in the first half. He was limited to just 6 points on 1-3 shooting in the first half. Arizona went into the break with a 39:30 lead.
The Bluejays had a similarly bumpy start to the second half. Ryan Nembhard missed a wide open layup followed by an Arthur Kaluma airball on a three. Basketball is really a running game. This game only proved that cliché. Creighton ran fast to cut the lead to 4 before Arizona extended the lead back to 14. Creighton didn’t back down and halved the lead with just over 10 minutes into the game. The Bluejays couldn’t keep their momentum. At a crucial point in the game, with 7 minutes behind and 10 minutes remaining, the Bluejays went into a nearly 3-minute scoring drought. Arizona maintained an 8-13 point lead for the overwhelming majority of the second half. Creighton reduced the lead back to 7 with over 2 minutes remaining. Baylor Scheierman knocked down a huge transition three to draw the Bluejays 4, 81-77 with just over a minute to go. Creighton found himself with the ball and a chance to tie the game with 7 seconds remaining. Creighton failed to equalize the score. Arizona won the game 81-79.
The difference in the game turned out to be dots in color. Arizona finished the game with 48 color points compared to Creighton’s 24. The Creighton defense couldn’t string together enough stops. This Arizona team is the best in the nation for field goal efficiency, and the Wildcats shot 52.9% from the field.
Creighton finished the game 27-59 (45.8%) from field, 10-25 (40%) from three and 15-19 (78.9%) from the free throw line. Arizona finished the game with .529/.313/.571 shooting splits. Arizona won the rebound fight 38-29.
Creighton Stats Guide:
- Nembhard: 20 points, 6 assists, 1 steal
- Kalkbrenner: 16 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals
- Alexander: 15 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
Arizona Stats Guide:
- Ballo: 30 points, 13 rebounds, 1 block
- Kriisa: 13 points, 9 assists, 3 rebounds
- Tubelis: 12 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
Creighton gets more than a week off and will travel to Austin, Texas on Thursday, December 1st to play the Longhorns.