TEMPE, Ariz. (AP)Mitch Ballock made the biggest shot of the game, but he was not about taking credit.
Ballock’s fourth 3-pointer gave Creighton four-point lead with 56 seconds remaining, and his break-away dunk put the final touches on a 67-60 victory over Arizona State on Saturday night.
Ballock took a tipped pass from point guard Marcus Zegarowski and hit the decisive 3-pointer from the right wing.
”Marcus just draws so much attention getting downhill with his ability to create plays when he gets in the paint,” Ballock said. ”He made a pass back. The ball happened to go in the hole.
”When you have guys who penetrate and get to the rim and can shoot the ball, it’s hard to cover all of us. You have to pick and choose what you want to take away, and that gives me a lot of open looks.”
Ballock, who finished with 14 points, has made at least two threes in each of his last 11 games as Creighton (10-2) extended its winning streak to six games.
Denzel Mahoney also scored 14 points, Christian Bishop had all 12 of his points in the second half and Zegarowski had seven points and eight assists.
”The sign of a great point guard is to make that read when it counts, and he made a great read at that point,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said of the Zegarowski’s pass that led to Ballock’s final 3.
Romello White had a season-high 18 points and 12 rebounds for his fifth double-double and Alonzo Verge Jr. had 19 points for the Sun Devils (8-4), who have lost two straight after suffering a 96-56 loss to Saint Mary’s on Wednesday.
Rob Edwards’ dunk with 1:10 remaining cut Creighton’s lead to 61-60, but the Sun Devils missed their final four – and six of their last seven -field goal attempts.
Creighton limited Arizona State to a season-low 35.4% shooting from the field. The Sun Devils shot 35.9% in their loss to St. Mary’s.
”Even though it might not seem like it, we are more than capable of hitting shots,” said Verge, who was 6 of 23 from the field.
Mahoney has 14 points in each of his two games with the Bluejays after gaining his eligibility at the conclusion of the first semester. He transferred from Southeast Missouri State during the 2017-18 season.
”Denzel is being who he is,” McDermott said. ”We are being who we are. Now we have to try to blend the two of them together, and that will get better with time,”
Creighton has three players who have made at least 30 3-pointers this season and appear to have another more than capable long-range shooter in Denzel Mahoney, who has made two 3-pointers in each of the two games he has played.
LOOKING FOR A FIT
Arizona State used its sixth starting lineup Saturday as it looks to find a cohesive mix. Injuries and a suspension have factored into the changes, too.
Creighton: The perimeter-oriented Bluejays were ranked the top 20 in NCAA Division I in 3-point field goals per game and have shown they can play with the anyone, beating Texas Tech and and losing only to ranked teams Michigan and San Diego State. Their guards can score. The test will be how they handle the physicality of Big East play as they look to return to the NCAA tournament after a two-year absence.
Arizona State: Alonzo Verge Jr. has taken over the outside scoring load the last four games as the Sun Devils look to find consistent offense around guard Remy Martin and inside presence Romello White. The Sun Devils were shooting 42.9% from the field and 29.8% from three-point range (310th of the 350 Division I schools) entering the Creighton game.
Creighton will play host to NAIA Midland on Saturday before hosting Marquette in the Big East opener on New Year’s Day.
Arizona State will conclude nonconference play against Texas Southern on Saturday before hosting rival No. 16 Arizona in the Pac-12 opener Jan. 4.
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