OMAHA, Neb. -- A state-record crowd of 15,872 was on hand as the Creighton men's basketball team trimmed No. 24 Xavier, 73-67, at Qwest Center Omaha on Saturday night. Creighton, which improved to 4-2, never trailed while dropping Xavier to 7-2 on the young season.
Anthony Tolliver had 17 points to lead all players, while teammate Nate Funk had 15 points, six assists and three steals for CU. Xavier was led by 13 points and five assists from Oklahoma transfer Drew Lavender.
Days after losing at Dayton, Creighton head coach Dana Altman agreed with the media that asked him if his team felt a sense of urgency. "I'm sure they did. We know we haven't played well. We haven't been as competitive as our past teams have been. From that standpoint, there was a sense of urgency to get something going.
"We talked to our players about being more aggressive," said Altman. "Their effort tonight, and competitiveness, was what I liked."
Creighton got baskets from Funk and Josh Dotzler to open the game and never trailed. The Jays used a 10-0 run to go up 19-8, with five of the points coming from Tolliver. After Xavier closed to within 24-20, CU unleashed a 10-2 surge that featured five additional markers from Tolliver. CU took a 34-26 lead into halftime.
Much as they did on Wednesday at Dayton, Creighton opened the second half with a flurry. The Bluejays used a 9-2 run to open the second stanza to open up the night's biggest lead at 43-28 with 17:38 to go. Nick Porter's steal and lay-in capped that spurt.
Xavier would get as close as 52-48 with 9:04 to go, but CU hit just enough free throws down the stretch to stave off the Muskeeters. After starting the second half 2-of-8 at the line, the Jays made 11 straight free throws in the final 5:04 until a Porter miss with 0.3 seconds to go.
Tolliver had 17 points and three blocked shots against the Muskeeters, one year after a breakout game of 26 points and 10 rebounds against Xavier. Funk had 15 points, six assists and three steals in 36 minutes. Dane Watts had eight points and 10 rebounds in 33 minutes of play. CU shot 42.9 percent for the game (24-56), 6-of-21 from three-point range (28.6 percent) and 73.1 percent (19-26) at the stripe.
Xavier was paced by 13 points from Lavender, while Stanley Burrell (12) and Justin Doellman (10) were also in double-figures. Brandon Cole led the rebounding brigade with eight rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench. Coming off four consecutive games of 50 percent shooting or better, Xavier shot just 40.4 percent for the game, including a 2-of-15 start. The Muskies also hit 16-of-20 free throws (80 percent) and outrebounded Creighton 43-30.
Creighton improved to 4-2 with the win, including a 4-0 home mark. The Jays are now 2-0 at Qwest Center Omaha against ranked teams all-time. CU is 17-107 all-time against ranked teams, including 5-2 home mark under Dana Altman. Altman's 6-9 ledger against ranked teams are more wins than any Bluejay coach in history, passing Eddie Sutton's 5-18 record against ranked foes.