OMAHA, Neb. — Khyri Thomas scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half, breaking open a close game with a three-point play and 3-pointer on consecutive possessions, and No. 22 Creighton defeated ninth-ranked Wisconsin 79-67 on Tuesday night.
Maurice Watson Jr. had 17 points and 10 assists and Marcus Foster added 15 points for the Bluejays (2-0).
Bronson Koenig scored 21 points and Nigel Hayes had 16 points to lead the Badgers (1-1), who made only 3 of 26 3-pointers after starting 8 of 13 from beyond the arc.
Wisconsin got within seven points in the final minute, but Justin Patton and Thomas finished off the Badgers with back-to-back dunks.
Hayes, the Big Ten preseason player of the year, scored 11 points in the first 12 minutes and was held scoreless until Ethan Happ fed him for an easy lay-in with 11 minutes left in the game.
That’s when Creighton started its decisive run. Cole Huff’s jumper from in front of the Creighton bench put the Bluejays up 52-50. After Toby Hegner hit a 3, Thomas stripped the ball from Koenig, drove for a layup and converted a three-point play.
Happ missed on the other end, and then Thomas drilled a 3 to make it 63-52.
The Badgers, who have all five of their starters back from last season, were the highest-ranked non-conference opponent to visit the Bluejays since a No. 4 DePaul in 1983-84.
The game was part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games matching Big East and Big Ten teams the first week of the season.
The Marquette Golden Eagles are a young, tough team that, sadly, finds ways to throw games away. Now 16-10, 5-8 in Big East Play, Marquette lost a tough one to Creighton Saturday and not even the winning coach was happy at how his team won. Creighton Head Coach Greg McDermott said his team played poorly; MU Head Coach Steve Wojciechowski wasn’t pleased either, evident in his remarks after the game.
“I know we have three freshmen and a sophomore whatever on the court at the end of the game, but 25 games in out of a timeout you have to try to do what we want to do and if it doesn’t work then that’s on me,” Wojciechowski said. “But you’ve got to try to do it. Not doing it is not acceptable.”
He’s talking about the final seconds of the game. After a timeout, with a two point lead, Wojciechowski has drawn up a play that would involve either Freshman Henry Ellenson or Junior Luke Fischer. But, the players on the court didn’t event attempt to run the play.
It vanished as soon as the ball came into play.
Marquette doesn’t get a shot, Creighton gets the ball, runs back down the court, pops a 3-pointer and that’s all she wrote for the Golden Eagles…after a few more miscues including another missed shot, a failed attempt at a rebound and then a foul.
Slim hopes to make the NCAA Tournament now and lots of Marquette faithful lamenting the possible leaving of Ellenson for the draft.