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Creighton vs. #21 Xavier: Preview, how to watch

Creighton and Xavier look to bounce back on Saturday afternoon

NCAA Basketball: Creighton at Xavier The Enquirer-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch Creighton vs. Xavier

Time: 2:00 p.m. ET


Watch Online: Fox Sports App

“This isn’t a league for the weak.”

That’s how Xavier head coach Travis Steele began his press conference after his Musketeers (14-5, 4-4) lost to Providence on Wednesday. Just over one hundred miles away in Indianapolis, the Creighton Bluejays (12-6, 4-3) were facing that reality as well.

These two teams meet Saturday afternoon, each coming off a tough loss.

The Bluejays will be happy to return to Omaha, where they are undefeated thus far in conference play. Creighton lost on Saturday at Butler for the fifth consecutive season. They were without head coach Greg McDermott for the second straight game due to health and safety protocols, and he remarked to the press that Hinkle Fieldhouse has been their “house of horrors.” McDermott will be back with the team on Saturday.

Creighton’s 17-point loss was their second most lopsided defeat of the season. “We never quite found our flow offensively,” said McDermott, who watched the game on TV. The Bluejays hit just two of their twenty-two 3-point attempts and totaled 55 points. Only their game against Kennesaw State back in November was worse from deep.

The Musketeers are fresh off a heartbreaking home loss to the Friars. Down by 14 in the first half, they rallied to take the lead with under a minute to play. Jared Bynum undid all that work with a transition 3-pointer to give Providence a win in the final seconds.

“They’re not gonna feel sorry for us that we lost on a game-winner to Providence,” said Steele.

That loss was the second straight for a Xavier team that has been up and down in Big East play. At Creighton, they will be looking to avoid a three-game losing streak for the first time this season.

The home team has won every regular season meeting between these two opponents dating back to 2019, including a meeting in Cincinnati earlier this season. The Bluejays played well in that one, but it was not enough. Alex O’Connell led all scorers with 22 points, and their trio of Ryans produced as well. Nembhard, the freshman guard, scored 18 points. Hawkins, the forward, led all players with 13 rebounds. Kalkbrenner, the center, had a then-season high 5 blocks.

It was Xavier’s depth that was the story earlier this January. The Musketeers scored 25 bench points and had six scorers with at least ten points in the 80-73 victory. Zach Freemantle had his first - and only - double-double of the season with 13 points and rebounds. Creighton led by five with 12:37 to play before Colby Jones and Jack Nunge took over. They led a 19-4 Xavier run that put the Musketeers ahead by 10 in the closing minutes.

For Xavier to end their skid, they’d like to see those runs come earlier in the game. They’ve found themselves down early in recent games, including against Creighton the first time around when they trailed by eight in the first half. Steele liked what he saw from his team early against the Friars but said the shots just didn’t fall. Winning on the road is already hard in the Big East. There’s no need to dig a hole and make it that much more difficult.

Greg McDermott will be looking to see his youthful lineup play more consistently in front of their home crowd. These Bluejays have already showed they can handle Xavier in stretches. This time around, they’ll need the defense to hold and avoid the runs that cost them in the second half to split the series.

Saturday also marks Creighton’s twelfth annual Pink Out. The team has raised $24,165 already for the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Omaha this year and over $330,000 since the start of the event in 2011. The Bluejays are 8-3 in their Pink Out games.

If you would like to donate, you can do so here.