Creighton Men's Season Ends vs Tennessee


Photo Credit: Creighton Athletics Photo Credit: Creighton Athletics

DETROIT, Mich. -- Second-seeded and sixth-ranked Tennessee used a 21-4 run to start the second half and third-seeded and 11th-ranked Creighton's comeback fell just short as the Vols won 82-75 in action at the Midwest Regional Semifinal in Detroit late on Friday night.

The Volunteers (27-8) advance to Sunday's Regional Final against top-seeded Purdue (32-4), which beat Gonzaga 80-68 in the first game of the evening. Creighton finishes its season with a 25-10 mark, its most wins since also finishing 25-10 in 2016-17.

Baylor Scheierman led CU with 25 points in the final game of his standout career while adding six rebounds. He played all but the final five seconds, as did fellow senior Ryan Kalkbrenner (14 points, seven rebounds, two blocks). Also in double-figures for the Bluejays was Steven Ashworth (16) and Trey Alexander (13 points, seven rebounds, six assists). The Bluejays shot 44.8 percent for the game, including 47.8 percent from three-point range, and made 12-of-13 free throws (92.3 percent) to finish the year shooting a school-record 78.8 percent for the season.

First Team All-American Dalton Knecht paced Tennessee with 26 points, also contributing six rebounds and five assists. Zakai Zeigler never left the floor and finished with 18 points, six assists and four rebounds while drawing six fouls. Rounding out UT's double-figure trio was Josiah-Jordan James with 15. The Volunteers shot 41.8 percent from the field and hit 45.8 percent of its shots from downtown (11-24). UT won the rebound battle 36-34 and outscored CU 10-0 off turnovers, 18-5 in transition and 15-4 off the bench.

The first half was a good one. A deep three-pointer by Scheierman, followed by a thee-point play from Alexander, helped tie the score at 24-all with 5:06 left in the opening half. Ashworth then swished a three-pointer on the next trip as CU retook the lead at 27-26. After Knecht responded with a trey, Ashworth and Scheierman bombed consecutive triples as CU matched its largest lead at 33-29 and prompted a Tennessee timeout.

The teams exchanged the lead eight times in the first half, with Kalkbrenner's 75th slam of the season giving CU a 35-34 lead at the break. Scheierman led all players with 15 points in the first half, while Kalkbrenner added eight points and a game-high six rebounds before intermission. Knecht led the Vols with 10 points in the first half as UT shot 5-for-10 behind the line before the break after going 3-for-25 form downtown in a Second Round win vs. Texas.

Tennessee turned up the defense early in the second half, using a 18-0 run to take its largest lead at 55-39. That stretch started with two free throws from Knecht and would include four lay-ups in addition to a pair of three-pointers before a three-ball by Scheierman snapped the scoreless drought at just over five minutes.

The Bluejays battled back after falling behind by as much as 15, using a 9-2 run to halve the deficit to 62-55 with 8:10 remaining after Scheierman's traditional three-point play. A Kalkbrenner lay-up and two free throws made it a three-point game (62-59) with 6:02 left but Knecht drilled a contested three-pointer to halve the Bluejay momentum. Ashworth buried a three-pointer but again Knecht answered with a trey. A three-point play by Tobe Awaka with 1:39 left gave the Vols a 71-64 lead and UT converted at the line down the stretch to ice the game as CU never got any closer than five points in the final minute.