With a win on Tuesday night at No. 19 Marquette, Creighton men’s basketball picked up its third road win this season over a ranked opponent.
Including a neutral site victory over then ranked No. 12 Texas Tech, the Jays now have four wins against ranked opponents, with all of them coming away from home. With a win on Sunday against No. 21 Butler, Creighton can set a school record for top-25 wins in a season.
Marquette senior guard Markus Howard came into the game averaging 27 points per game, but the Jays, and primarily junior guard Ty-Shon Alexander, held him to 13 points on four of 14 shooting from the floor. According to Jon Rothstein, CBS college basketball analyst, Howard has shot 10 of 30 from the field when guarded by Alexander in two games this season.
“I don’t understand why he’s not in the conversation of the great defenders in this league,” coach Greg McDermott said after the game. “His effective field goal percentage against him is in the top five of the country and he’s guarding All-Americans in Markus Howard and Myles Powell, so it isn’t like he’s guarding guys who can’t play. He’s always on the other team’s best player.”
Along with guarding Howard, Alexander led the Jays in scoring with 22 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished four assists, all while turning the ball over just once. Sophomore guard Marcus Zegarowski added 17 points, shooting seven of 11 from the field.
“I’m blessed to play with a lot of great players who help spread the floor,” Zegarowski said after the game. “I just get in there and try to make the right play.”
Both teams came into the game within the top 20 schools in three-point percentage, but early on, the game was a defensive battle -- carried in part by Alexander. The two teams combined to shoot four of 27 from behind the arc in the first half.
An 8-0 run helped Creighton gain a 27- 17 lead in the first half, and a 3-pointer from junior guard Mitch Ballock gave the Jays a 32-22 lead going into halftime. Howard was held scoreless in the first half.
Early in the second half, Marquette was able to get back into the game with a 16-6 run to tie it at 38, but that would be the closest the Golden Eagles got. Creighton responded with another 8-0 run, and Marquette would only get as close as five after that.
Alexander went on to ice the game with a fadeaway jumper that put the Jays up nine with just over a minute left.
The win puts the Bluejays in a strong position in the conference as they near the end of the season. The Jays currently sit a game behind Seton Hall in the Big East standings with a game at home remaining against the Pirates.
“We’re very excited, knowing that we’re tied for first we don’t look at that to give up now,” Alexander said. “We want to win the Big East. We want to dance ourselves to March Madness.”
That mentality will be key as the Jays return home on Sunday afternoon for yet another top 25 and Big East duel against Butler. Tip off is scheduled for 3 p.m.