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Ryan Kalkbrenner’s return sparks Creighton to win over Butler

Dec 22, 2022; Omaha, Nebraska, USA; Creighton Bluejays center Ryan Kalkbrenner (11) backs in on Butler Bulldogs center Manny Bates (15) in the first half at CHI Health Center Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

With 7-foot-1 center Ryan Kalkbrenner returning to the lineup, Creighton got back in the win column with a 78-56 victory over Butler on Thursday night in frigid Omaha, Neb.

The Bluejays (7-6, 1-1 Big East) snapped a six-game losing streak as Kalkbrenner canned 8 of 9 shots for a game-high 19 points in 29 minutes after missing the previous three games with a non-COVID illness.

Baylor Scheierman chipped in 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three steals while Arthur Kaluma (12 points) and Ryan Nembhard (11 points) also hit double figures for Creighton.

Butler (8-5, 0-2) received 14 points from Chuck Harris, but the Bulldogs shot just 2 of 12 from 3-point range and got outrebounded 37-19.

The Bulldogs started well to seize the lead. Butler drilled four consecutive shots — two by backup center Jalen Thomas — to go on an 8-0 run and claim a 16-7 lead that forced Creighton coach Greg McDermott to call a timeout with 12:11 left in the first half.

The Bluejays responded with a hot streak of their own as Kalkbrenner sank a 3-pointer — his first shot of the game — and Scheierman swished a 30-footer that beat the shot clock to pull Creighton into a 20-20 tie with 8:39 left.

On Creighton’s next possession, Francisco Farabello drove into the paint and bounced a pass between a Butler defender’s legs to Fredrick King for a dunk and the Bluejays’ first lead of the game.

Scheierman and Arthur Kaluma added 3-pointers shortly thereafter as Creighton nailed six of its first eight 3-point attempts to claim a 28-22 lead.

Creighton maintained the lead for the rest of the half as Scheierman produced 12 points and Kaluma added 10 to give the Bluejays a 40-34 edge at intermission. Harris kept the Bulldogs in the hunt with 12 points.

The Bluejays built the game’s first double-figure lead early in the second half. Scheierman led a fastbreak and fed King for a layup that capped a 7-0 run and pushed the margin to 51-40.

Butler coach Thad Matta called a timeout to try to reboot the Bulldogs, but they couldn’t build any rhythm offensively as Creighton continued to lengthen its lead.

–Field Level Media