NEW YORK (AP) — Marcus Zegarowski scored 20 points, shooting 6 for 7 from 3-point range, and No. 9 Creighton cruised to a 94-76 victory over St. John's on Thursday night.
Denzel Mahoney had 16 points and freshman center Ryan Kalkbrenner added 15 off the bench to help the Bluejays (5-2, 1-1 Big East) bounce back from a home loss to Marquette in their conference opener Monday night.
Damien Jefferson had 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Christian Bishop added 11 points and 10 rebounds for Creighton.
Julian Champagnie led the Red Storm (5-4, 0-3) with 17 points, and freshman Posh Alexander had 13.
St. John's had whittled an early 16-point deficit to two in the second half when the 7-foot Kalkbrenner put together a string of four baskets down low to spark the early portion of a 22-4 run that put Creighton firmly in control again. Mahoney's 3 made it 74-54 with a little more than 6 1/2 minutes left.
Zegarowski, the Big East preseason player of the year, was 0 for 7 from beyond the arc in the loss to Marquette. But he was right on target this time, draining consecutive 3s to make it 80-58 with under five minutes remaining.
It was a bit of payback at a nearly empty Carnesecca Arena on the St. John’s campus for Creighton, which was ranked No. 10 in the country when it was blown out 91-71 by St. John’s in the same building last March.
LET'S FINISH THIS
The last time these teams were on the court together was March 12 for a Big East Tournament quarterfinal at Madison Square Garden. St. John's led top-seeded Creighton 38-35 at halftime when the rest of the tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak — negating the first-half statistics.
Turned out, Creighton and St. John's were the last two schools to start a game in the 2019-20 season. By the end of the day, not only had conference tournaments been scrubbed, the entire NCAA Tournament had been wiped out as well.
Creighton: With balanced scoring from its veteran lineup, the Bluejays easily handled the Red Storm's pressure defense and rebounded nicely from their 89-84 loss to Marquette. Throw in a big bounce-back performance from Kalkbrenner, who was ineffective against the Golden Eagles, and Creighton looked much more like a top-10 team that was picked second in the league's preseason poll.
St. John's: After opening 5-1 out of conference, St. John's has dropped its first three Big East games and is struggling on defense. With no fans permitted in the arena, the Red Storm were handed a lopsided defeat in their first league home game.
Creighton: Stays on the East Coast to play Sunday at Connecticut (3-0) in the Huskies' first Big East game since 2013. UConn has been dealing with COVID-19 issues and hasn't played since Dec. 3 after several games were canceled or postponed.
St. John’s: Will host Georgetown on Sunday night, the second meeting in eight days between the old rivals due to Big East schedule changes forced by the coronavirus. After leading by seven with under three minutes left in regulation at McDonough Arena last weekend, the Red Storm lost 97-94 in overtime. The rematch will mark the Hoyas’ first visit to Carnesecca Arena on the St. John’s campus since the 1980-81 season — the year before Patrick Ewing arrived at Georgetown and Chris Mullin at St. John's. The programs have played at Madison Square Garden ever since.
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