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Feb 8, 2024 4:47 pm

Surging Xavier seeks signature win vs. No. 19 Creighton

olivari creighton

Xavier looks to keep rolling when it hosts No. 19 Creighton on Saturday afternoon in a critical Big East contest.

They are tied for fourth place in the conference, with the Bluejays owning an 85-78 win over the Musketeers on Jan. 23 in Omaha, Neb.

Xavier (13-10, 7-5 Big East) has won three straight and six of its last eight to put themselves back in contention for a top-four seed in next month’s Big East tournament in New York.

On Wednesday night, Big East Player of the Week Quincy Olivari scored 14 points and hit two key free throws late to lead Xavier past Villanova, 56-53, in a tense back-and-forth battle.

Olivari drained two free throws with 18.3 seconds remaining to put Xavier up 56-53. Villanova failed to get off a potential game-tying 3-pointer as time expired.

“There are going to be some wins where we score 70, 80 points and there’s gonna be some wins where your defense is going to win the game,” Olivari said. “And our defense won the game. This is a testament to the hard work we put in over the summer and in preseason.

“Sometimes, we need just a perfect possession and other times where we say we need to lock in on defense. So this is an example of us when we needed a stop … we got it.”

Olivari ranks second in Big East scoring at 18.9 points per game. Xavier’s only other player in double figures Wednesday was Desmond Claude with 11 points on 5-of-14 shooting from the field.

Creighton (16-7, 7-5) is coming off a gut-wrenching 91-87 overtime loss at Providence on Wednesday.

The Bluejays have already played in three overtime games in the Big East this season and two other one-point games decided in the closing seconds.

“Like I told them in the locker room, we’ve got to stick together,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “We’ve been in a bunch of these games. Lost in overtime to (Villanova), lost a one-point game to Butler, lost in overtime (to Providence). We beat St John’s by one right at the end. Beat Seton Hall in three overtimes.

“So we’ve been in five of these games in 12 Big East games. When you have special years, you find a way to win most of those. I still think we can have a special year with this group. We got to find a way to finish.”

Baylor Scheierman, the third-leading scorer in the Big East, had 27 points and four 3-pointers while playing all 45 minutes in the loss. The senior guard became the only Division l player in history to eclipse 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 500 assists and 300 3-pointers. Scheierman played three seasons at South Dakota and is in his second with the Bluejays.

Steven Ashworth added 20 points but missed a runner at the end of regulation that could’ve won the game for Creighton.

In Scheierman (18.6), Trey Alexander (17.2) and Ryan Kalkbrenner (16.5), the Bluejays possess three of the top six scorers in the Big East.

–Field Level Media

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