No. 9 Creighton Upset by Unranked Marquette Despite Mitch Ballock's 26 Points

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2020

Marquette forward Justin Lewis (2) ready to pass against Creighton guard Antwann Jones (0) in the first half during an NCAA basketball game on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/John Peterson)
John Peterson/Associated Press

Marquette handed Creighton its second loss of the season as the Golden Eagles beat the ninth-ranked Bluejays 89-84 on Monday night.

Creighton trailed by eight with 57 seconds left before getting five quick points from Christian Bishop and Mitch Ballock. Two free throws from Koby McEwen gave Marquette some breathing room before Greg Elliott fouled Denzel Mahoney on a three-pointer to hand the Bluejays a possible lifeline.

Mahoney only made one of the three free throws, though, which all but sealed the Golden Eagles' upset bid. Jamal Cain fouled Mahoney on another long-range jumper with 5.5 seconds left, but his three points at the charity stripe were too little, too late.

Creighton lost despite the best efforts of Ballock, who finished with a game-high 26 points and six rebounds.

Mahoney had 21 points, a total that is skewed somewhat by his seven makes at the foul line. He and Marcus Zegarowski combined to shoot 9-of-26 from the field.

Creighton's defense deservers much more of the blame for the result. The Bluejays' 84 points were nearly equal to their season average (84.2), but they allowed Marquette to shoot 53.6 percent overall and 57.1 percent from the perimeter.

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The Golden Eagles had a decided advantage inside, too, out-rebounding Creighton 42-27 and owning a 30-20 edge in points in the paint.

D.J. Carton led the way for Steve Wojciechowski's squad, putting up 20 points. The sophomore guard drilled a critical jumper from the corner that put Marquette up four points with 2:12 left on the clock as Creighton was knocking on the door.

Heading into this year, expectations weren't especially high for the Golden Eagles after they won 18 games in 2019-20 and lost leading scorer Markus Howard. Now, they have wins over two Top 10 opponents after having toppled No. 4 Wisconsin on Dec. 4.

Marquette continues Big East play Thursday against Seton Hall before hitting the road to play Xavier on Sunday. Finishing out the week with two more victories should see the team climb into the Top 25.