No. 14 Creighton beats Butler without suspended McDermott

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Marcus Zegarowski matched his career high with 32 points and No. 14 Creighton closed a difficult week off the court with a 93-73 victory over Butler on Saturday.

The Bluejays (18-7, 14-6 Big East) won for the first time in three games, doing it without head coach Greg McDermott, who is suspended indefinitely for making racially insensitive remarks to his team following a Feb. 27 loss. Assistant coach Alan Huss served as interim head coach against the Bulldogs.

Creighton scored more than 90 points for the sixth time this season and never trailed after the opening four minutes.

Denzel Mahoney scored 15 points, Damien Jefferson added 12 and Christian Bishop had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Chuck Harris had a career-high 29 points to lead the Bulldogs (9-14, 8-12), and Bryce Golden matched his career best with 19.

Zegarowski turned in a virtuoso performance in what might have been his final game with the Bluejays.

The junior was 10 of 12 from the field, including 5 of 7 on 3-pointers, and the preseason Big East player of the year came up with the basket Creighton needed when the game looked as though it would tighten in the first half.

After Butler’s Jair Bolden made a 3 to cut the lead to five, Zegarowski hit one of his own. Zegarowski did it again when Golden connected on a 3 to make it a seven-point game, and started the closing run of the half with a two-point basket right after Harris hit from distance.

The Bluejays stretched their lead to 23 in the second half.

Creighton’s Alex O’Connell was ejected following a confrontation with Myles Tate with 12:23 left. O’Connell was fouled by Tate as he went to the basket, and the two jawed with each other. Each player was given a technical foul, and as they were walking away, O’Connell was given a second technical.

Butler beat the Bluejays 70-66 in Indianapolis on Jan. 16. The home team has won the last eight meetings.

Creighton, which shot 52% and made 12 of 25 3s, was much sharper than in its 73-61 loss at No. 10 Villanova on Wednesday. That game came one day after revelations that McDermott, urging team unity following a loss at Xavier, used language evocative of slavery and the antebellum South when he said, “I need everybody to stay on the plantation. I can’t have anybody leave the plantation.”

McDermott apologized, coached the Villanova game and was suspended on Thursday. Five Black Creighton players spoke in a video before the Butler game about why McDermott’s words hurt them.

BIG PICTURE

Butler: Tough finish to the regular season for the Bulldogs. They gave up their most points in a regulation game since December 2017, and they shot 5 of 26 on 3s (19.2%) for their worst mark of the season.

Creighton: The Bluejays really needed this win heading into the Big East Tournament in New York. They avoided their first three-game losing streak since February 2019.

UP NEXT

Creighton: Clinched the No. 2 seed in the Big East Tournament and will play Thursday against the first-round winner between No. 7 Providence and the No. 10 seed, which will be determined late Saturday.

Butler: Will be the No. 9 or 10 seed and will play Wednesday against a to-be-determined opponent.

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