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November 27, 2009KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- "Let down" is a phrase that certainly comes to mind.
The Creighton men's basketball team lost to Xavier 80-67 in its second game at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando. The Jays (2-3) never led in the game a day after losing to No. 15 Michigan in overtime.
"Yesterday's (Michigan) game was one that we felt like we let get away from us," said freshman Ethan Wragge. "But we played hard. We didn't match that same intensity today."
Wragge was one of the few bright spots for coach Dana Altman's team. He had a career-high 21 points and hit five three-pointers. He also led the team with six rebounds and had the Jays' only steal.
"I don't create many open shots for myself," said Wragge. "So I depend on my teammates. They hit me when I was open, so the credit goes to them."
Creighton's other freshman also had to step up after starting point guard Antoine Young left the game in the first half after taking a shot to the groin. Young didn't return, and freshman Andrew Bock saw a career-high 20 minutes at the point guard position.
"I thought Andrew did good for the limited number of minutes he's received this year," said Altman. "I thought he moved the ball and got going pretty good. That's something that he can build on.
"Both of our freshmen were good today. Ethan worked hard out there. Everyone will notice his points, but he was our leading rebounder and defensively he was moving around. You talk about 17 good minutes -- he had them."
Despite the efforts of the youngest Jays, and despite only losing the rebounding battle by one, they weren't able to overcome 22 points -- 15 in the second half -- from Xavier (4-1) sophomore Jordan Crawford and the Musketeers' hot shooting.
Xavier shot 53 percent from the field and made 6-of-9 second-half threes. In addition to the 80 points the Jays gave up today, they also allowed 90 to Dayton in the season opener.
"We're giving up a lot of baskets," said Altman. "Part of that is our style, getting up and down, but the shooting percentages are not the numbers we're striving for. We're going to have to work on that."
Creighton had trouble stopping the Musketeers' transition offense all day. Xavier outscored the Jays 10-2 in fast-break points, and that doesn't count the number of free throws Xavier added as a result of getting fouled on a fast break.
"We were stuck in the mud from the get-go," said Altman. "We just had a real hard time getting back. We knew they would try to push the ball and they got it going early."
Defensively, Xavier was able to pressure Creighton's guards and force the Jays to start their offense further from the basket than they like.
"Our ball movement was not very good," said Altman. "We just didn't handle the ball. We had some bad turnovers and I didn't like our ball movement all day."
Even with all of Creighton's struggles, a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer cut the Xavier lead to eight and got the Jays back into it. After scoring the first basket of the second half, the deficit to only six, but it was a close as they would get.
"I felt like we were back in the game," said Altman. "Then they just got three pretty easy baskets and defensively we just didn't get them stopped. We made a lot of fundamental mistakes -- the way we handled and went through picks. We made a lot of mistakes and they hit shots."
Junior center Kenny Lawson Jr. was in double-figures for the third straight game with 10 points, and senior Justin Carter also added 10 points.
The Jays will have tomorrow off and will take on the loser of today's Baylor-Iona game at 9 a.m. (CST) Sunday.
Altman said he thinks Young will be fine. Young spent some time after the injury throwing up, but the doctors said it was nothing serious ... Altman said Carter has played more than expected and the day off will be good for him, though the knee appears to be responding well ... Crawford's 22 points were a career high