SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (UC) – Ryan Hawkins, Ryan Kalkbrenner and Ryan Nembhard combined for 56 points in the return to assistant coach Ryan Miller’s home state as the Creighton men’s basketball team picked up an 83-71 win over No. 24 BYU on Saturday, Dec. 11 at Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The Bluejays led by as much as 21 in the contest (57-36), then had to withstand a late push from a veteran BYU squad that already owned wins over the likes of San Diego State, Oregon and Utah this winter. Both teams are now 8-2 on the season, and Creighton has now beaten at least one ranked team in each of the past nine seasons.
After BYU won the tip and scored 20 seconds into the game, Creighton answered with a 10-0 run to take an early eight point lead and would not trail again. Kalkbrenner started the burst with a traditional three-point play before back-to-back buckets from Hawkins. A jumper from Alex O’Connell followed to put CU in command early.
BYU would use the long ball to stay close before the Bluejays countered with a 12-0 run to go up 36-19 and force a timeout from Cougars coach Mark Pope. Nembhard had five points and Kalkbrenner added four more in the flurry, which also included a three-ball by O’Connell. BYU got five straight points from Alex Barcello to force a Bluejay timeout before Hawkins got loose again. The sixth-year senior scored eight straight points in a span of 57 seconds to balloon the lead to 44-24 with four minutes left in the half.
Creighton never let BYU get closer than 10 in the closing minutes, as Hawkins threw down a thunderous dunk over Te’Jon Lucas in transition with just over five minutes to go and O’Connell hit a second clutch three-pointer to push the Bluejay lead back to 15.
Hawkins tied his season-high with 25 points, while Nembhard (17), O’Connell (15) and Kalkbrenner (14) also scored in double-figures. Creighton made 21-of-25 free throws and outscored BYU 36-28 in the paint. CU also blocked seven shots, with five by Kalkbrenner and two from Hawkins.
Barcello made five three-pointers and paced BYU with 28 points. The Cougars shot 12-of-23 from three-point range but made just 15-of-46 shots from two-point territory. Gideon George had 11 rebounds off the bench to lead all players. The Cougars won the rebound battle 42-36 but had 15 turnovers that CU converted into 17 points.
Creighton returns to the floor on Tuesday when it hosts Arizona State at 7 p.m. on FS1.