BY ERIC OLSON, AP Sports journalist
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Marcus Zegarowski hit a season high of 25 points in the second half, Mitch Ballock had 17 of his 20 points, and Creighton’s offensive in 19th place was No. 1 at his best pace in an 86-70 game. 5 Villanova on Saturday.
Creighton (16-5, 12-4 Big East) won for the sixth time in seven games and knocked out a top 5 opponent for the first time since beating Villanova in February 2018.
The Wildcats (13-3, 8-2) suffered their most one-sided loss since a 25-point loss to the state of Ohio in November 2019.
The Bluejays withdrew at the beginning of the second half of the meeting of the Big East’s two best teams. They had their best shooting in the first half of the season (65.4%) and finished the race with 59.3%.
Ballock made three of his six 3-pointers during a 13-2 run that extended the Bluejays advantage to 67-48.
Zegarowski defeated Collin Gillespie in the highly anticipated match against two of the nation’s best point guards. Gillespie had a total of eight points in 3v12 and 2 out of 8v3.
Big East preseason player of the year Zegarowski has struggled with his shot in the last three games. He made three 3s in the first half, including one that finally gave Creighton the lead. He was also responsible for the most beautiful game in the game when he hit the baseline for an inverted layup on Gillespie.
Early in the second half, Zegarowski took a step to get Gillespie to go the other way and then swung a one-handed swimmer into the lane.
Christian Bishop, the 6-foot-7 center of the Bluejays, made six out of seven shots and scored 16 points. Two praises from Zegarowski and one from Denzel Mahoney were converted into first-half dunks.
Villanova joined Omaha after his best offensive game, hitting a season high of 96 points in a blowout from Marquette. The Wildcats shot 70% and 63% of the season’s best in the second half of the game.
The Wildcats weren’t nearly as good at the CHI Health Center, shooting 33% in the second half and 37.5% in the game.
Justin Moore had 21 points and Jermaine Samuels added 16 for Villanova.
Jermaine Robinson-Earl, who shot 56% and averaged just under 20 points in his last four games, was 3 out of 13 and had eight points.
Villanova: Defense was a problem for coach Jay Wright and this game exposed it. If the crime is not carried out at a high level, the wildcats will not be able to count on their defense to save them.
Creighton: This was the feat the Bluejays were looking for from Zegarowski, who had paced up and down after off-season knee surgery. Zegarowski had been 12 of 35 in the last three games, including 4 of 15 against 3. If Zegarowski continues, he can lead the Bluejays on a deep postseason run.
Villanova host Connecticut on Saturday.
Creighton receives DePaul on February 24th.
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