No. 2 men’s basketball takes down No. 7 Creighton in Top-10 non-conference showdown

Matthew Caldwell, Sports desk editor

In the first Top-10 matchup at the new Moody Center, No. 2 Texas took down No. 7 Creighton 72-67 on Thursday. 

The Longhorns have quickly climbed the AP Poll after an undefeated start to the season and find themselves at their highest rank since 2010. Similarly, the Creighton Bluejays, led by head coach Doug McDermott, also entered the matchup tied for their highest ranking in program history.

“Creighton’s really good,” Texas head coach Chris Beard said. “They’re a Final Four team.”

Both sides got off to hot starts shooting the ball, combining for 27 points in the first six minutes of play. Senior forward Dylan Disu and Creighton center Ryan Kalkbrenner went to battle right away, with the two bigs exchanging buckets.

The game fell into a bit of a lull as both the Bluejays and Longhorns struggled to score. However, a pull-up jumper, steal and then fast-break layup, all by sophomore guard Tyrese Hunter, forced McDermott into calling a timeout with Texas up 22-17.

Not much changed for Creighton after the timeout, as the Bluejays continued their scoring drought that eventually lasted over five minutes. The metaphorical lid came off the bucket once they found a basket, and the Bluejays went on a 6-0 run to take back the lead with 4:20 left to go in the half.

Graduate student guard Marcus Carr and Hunter got the Longhorns back on track with back-to-back 3-point possessions, giving Texas a 32-27 halftime lead.

Texas carried its momentum into the second half, starting off with freshman forward Dillon Mitchell’s steal on Kalkbrenner that led to a Carr 3-pointer.

Kalkbrenner didn’t take that too lightly, as he answered with a couple of buckets to continue his perfect shooting night, leading Creighton in scoring with 15 points and helping the Bluejays go on another 6-0 run.

Back and forth the game went, as the Longhorns answered with a 10-0 run of their own to extend the lead to 11 points with 11:45 remaining.

Creighton didn’t go away, though, as Texas couldn’t build its lead any larger than 11 points. With 3:33 to go, Creighton star Baylor Scheierman came to life after being shut down all night, launching a deep three to cut the lead to five. He then hit a tough fadeaway, bringing Creighton within three points.

The Longhorns answered with a couple of huge stops that led to layups from Carr and Hunter, putting them back up by seven. But every time the Longhorns thought they had the game won, Scheierman came down and hit a 3-pointer, scoring 11 of his 13 points in the final 3:33 of the game and getting Creighton back within three.

Graduate student forward Brock Cunningham found himself at the line with four seconds remaining, needing a couple of free throws to ice the game. He calmly sank the first of a one-and-one, putting Texas up four, which eventually proved to be enough.

Texas won the thriller behind Carr’s team-high 19 points and five assists. The Longhorns also got solid contributions from senior forward Timmy Allen, who quietly had his best game of the season ,scoring 11 points on 50% shooting, and Hunter, who finished with 15 points and three rebounds. But the main reason Texas eked out a win was its three turnovers.

“The difference in the game was our ability to take care of the ball,” Beard said. “It was two really good teams that have a chance to have special seasons.”

With their second ranked win of the season, the Longhorns sit at 6–0 heading into the next matchup against No. 16 Illinois in Madison Square Garden for the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 6.