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Creighton’s balance, rebounding send Butler to defeat

Creighton Bluejays guard Trey Alexander (23) reaches for a lay-up against Butler Bulldogs guard Eric Hunter Jr. (2) on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023 on Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Creighton Bluejays leads at the half against the Butler Bulldogs, 36-28.

Ncaa Basketball Ini Butler Basketball Vs Creighton
Credit: Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Point guard Ryan Nembhard paced a balanced attack with 12 points and a career-high 11 rebounds to lead visiting Creighton to a 73-52 Big East victory over Butler on Tuesday night in Indianapolis.

“Ryan’s been sick for the last week or so,” said Creighton coach Greg McDermott. “To see him come out and have a game like he did today — hopefully he’s feeling better and it’s a sign of things to come.”

Baylor Scheierman contributed 12 points and five assists while Ryan Kalkbrenner and Trey Alexander added 11 points apiece for the Bluejays (11-8, 5-3 Big East), who claimed their first road win of the season by shooting 46.9 percent (30 for 64) from the field and owning a 47-24 advantage on the boards and a 44-20 lead in points in the paint.

Simas Lukosius paced Butler (11-9, 3-6) with a game-high 18 points that featured 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range. Jalen Thomas added 10 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. The shorthanded Bulldogs, who shot just 34.5 percent (20 for 58) from the field, suited up just eight players as starting center Manny Bates and three others were not available due to injury.

The Bulldogs canned three of their first four shots, then missed 12 of their next 14 attempts as Creighton turned a 7-4 deficit into an 18-11 lead.

The Bluejays then went nearly four minutes between baskets to give the Bulldogs time to mount a comeback. Lukosius cashed a 3-pointer with 4:06 left to cut Creighton’s lead to 26-24, but Butler came up empty on two shots to forge a tie.

When Alexander banked home a 3-pointer from the wing just before the buzzer, Creighton took a 36-28 lead into the break that included a 24-12 scoring advantage in the paint.

Creighton never let Butler sniff the lead during the second half. The Bulldogs clawed within 53-44 on Jayden Taylor’s give-and-go layup from Thomas with 10:32 left, but Creighton responded with Nembhard’s driving lefty scoop, Kalkbrenner’s jump hook in the lane and Francisco Farabello’s 3-pointer.

That spree boosted the lead to 60-44, resulting in Butler coach Thad Matta calling a timeout with 7:39 to go. The Bulldogs never got closer than 15 the rest of the way.

–Field Level Media