The 12th-ranked Xavier Musketeers shoot for their 10th straight win Wednesday when they host the Creighton Bluejays in Cincinnati.
Xavier (13-3, 5-0 Big East) reached its highest national ranking of the season in Monday’s rankings, two days after winning 88-80 at Villanova.
The win Saturday was a milestone for head coach Sean Miller and the Xavier basketball program, winning at Villanova for the first time ever in Big East play and winning at the Philadelphia-area school for the first time since the 1955-56 season.
The win also extended the Musketeers’ record in conference play to a perfect 5-0, their start in conference since joining the Big East. Three of those five wins have come on the road, as Xavier also won at Georgetown and St. John’s in December.
“Winning on the road in the Big East is difficult,” Miller said. “We covet the three (road wins) that we have and obviously today’s a part of that. We were ready. Whether we won or lost, Villanova was going to beat us, we weren’t going to beat ourselves. And by the way, we didn’t play a perfect game.”
Now the focus turns to keeping the momentum at home, where Xavier is 8-1 this season. Xavier is taking on a Creighton team that lost at then-No. 4 UConn, 69-60, on Saturday.
“It’s so much about right now,” Miller said of staying in the moment. “We have an opportunity to play Creighton at home. We have a great home crowd. Our students are on their way back. We have to take advantage of playing them at home.
“I look at Creighton, I watched a little bit of the UConn-Creighton game today and this conference is amazing. Every single game you’re challenged in different ways. I look at Creighton as one of America’s best teams. We’re gonna have to play a great game. If we can’t get over the fact that we just won this game well then we’ll lose the next one.”
Creighton forward Arthur Kaluma had his second straight double-double with 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds in the loss to UConn.
Following a six-game losing skid, Creighton (9-7, 3-2 Big East) had won three straight before Saturday’s setback. Xavier has beaten Creighton three straight times in conference play.
After hitting the road to face the Musketeers, the Bluejays return home to host No. 19 Providence on Saturday. After starting 2-0 against ranked teams, the Bluejays have dropped their last three against top 25 competition.
“I think the schedule we’ve played has prepared us for everything we’re going to see,” Creighton head coach Greg McDermott said. “(Saturday) was an example of that. We really got punched in the mouth before halftime and we came out and played pretty well to start that second half.
“Now we just got to stack those parts of the game where it’s really good on top of each other.”
Creighton has five players averaging in double figures in scoring, led by Ryan Kalkbrenner at 14.8 points per game. Kaluma is averaging 12.8 points while fellow sophomore Trey Alexander is scoring at a pace of 12.6 points per game.
Xavier owns a 20-16 lead in the series with Creighton (11-7 in Cincinnati). Of the 36 meetings between the teams, 23 have been within five points in the final minute, including nine of the last 15 games.
McDermott can get to .500 in his career against Xavier (he is 10-11 vs. the Musketeers). He has never faced Miller.
–Field Level Media