CINCINNATI — By the time No. 9 Creighton got into the game, it was too late. Xavier simply had more of everything in a long-awaited rematch.
Justin Martin had 19 points and a career-high 16 rebounds on Saturday, and Xavier led most of the way during a 75-69 victory over the Bluejays in front of the largest crowd in the 14-year history of the Musketeers' arena.
It was a big moment for Xavier, (20-9, 10-6), which lost one of the Big East's most wide-open games at Creighton in January.
Martin led the way. The junior guard helped Xavier control the tempo and build a 13-point lead early in the second half that was more than enough.
"Aw, I love it," Martin said. "I love it. I love it. I love it."
For Creighton (23-5, 13-3), it was a reminder of what happens when one of the nation's top offenses gets a little too quick to shoot. Doug McDermott scored 27 points, but the Bluejays went only 10 of 34 from beyond the arc. Creighton has nearly as many turnovers (15) as assists (17).
"We had a couple of forced ones," McDermott said. "That's not who we are. We are a team that historically shares the ball. We'll get back to that. Nothing to worry about here."
McDermott had 35 points during the Bluejays' 95-89 win at home on Jan. 12, a game that showed the reconfigured Big East was a whole different conference. Xavier players said afterward that they were looking forward to the rematch.
The Musketeers shot 50 percent from the field and withstood Creighton's late run. Semaj Christon scored 21 points, Dee Davis added 15, and the Musketeers shot 50 percent from the field as they got their first victory over a Top 10 team since they beat No. 8 Indiana 80-65 on Nov. 24, 2007.
"I don't think we turned our fight on as quickly as we needed to because Xavier certainly had it from the outset," coach Greg McDermott said.
Xavier led for most of the first half, pushing the lead to six points on several occasions. The Musketeers built it to double-digits with a seven-point run that featured Davis' 3-pointer and a pair of baskets by Christon, making it 41-30 with 2:22 left in the half.
The Musketeers took a 43-34 lead into halftime despite not shooting a free throw. Instead, the Musketeers shot 57.6 percent from the field and went 5 of 6 from beyond the arc. Martin led the way, getting nine points and matching his career high with 12 rebounds.
Martin came out aggressive again to start the second half. He hit a pair of 3s and Xavier's first two free throws for a 54-42 lead with 15:49 left. At that point, Xavier was 8 of 10 from beyond the arc, with Creighton more concerned about stopping drives to the basket.
Christon fell down while nearly getting a steal, got up and swiped Creighton's next pass and was fouled as he headed for the basket, bringing the crowd to its feet. His free throw gave Xavier a 13-point lead.
Creighton couldn't make any headway as Xavier controlled the boards and pushed the pace for layups. McDermott scored 11 points in the first 7 minutes of the half, but nobody else hit any shots consistently.
Xavier finally hit a cold spell, and Creighton took advantage with a 10-2 spurt. McDermott's fall-away 3-pointer cut it to 61-58 with 5:18 to go, prompting a Xavier timeout.
Davis made an uncontested 3, and Jalen Reynolds drove for a lay-in that rebuilt the lead to 68-60. Creighton never got closer than five points the rest of the way.
"It was frustrating," Doug McDermott said. "We competed a lot better in the second half, but Dee Davis and Justin Martin hit some tough shots. They made us pay.
"We started playing a lot harder when we got down by 12."
Creighton redshirt freshman guard Isaiah Zierden went down hard on a fast-break play in the first half and hurt his right knee. He was on crutches in the second half with ice wrapped on the knee. Zierden averages 11 minutes and 3.3 points.
Greg McDermott said Zierden would have the knee examined when the team got home, but doctors think he has a season-ending injury.
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