Foster scores 32, No. 25 Creighton gets past UT Arlington

Creighton's Marcus Foster (0) dunks the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas-Arlington in Omaha, Neb., Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. Creighton won 90-81. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) Marcus Foster and No. 25 Creighton left no doubt with UT Arlington coach Scott Cross about why the Bluejays rank among the nation’s scoring leaders.

Foster helped Creighton lead by 25 points in the first half, and the Mavericks never fully recovered in the Bluejays’ 90-81 victory Monday night.

”The speed that they play in is absolutely amazing,” Cross said. ”The way they pass the ball, the way they run in transition … I don’t think I’ve ever played a team that’s better in transition than them.”

Foster scored 22 of his season-high 32 points in the first half as Creighton rolled to its fourth straight win.

Creighton (9-2) matched its season scoring average of 90.2 points per game, which was tied for eighth nationally going into Monday and tops among Big East teams. The Bluejays shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, including 8 of 17 from 3-point range.

Creighton opened an 11-4 lead as Foster scored in the low post, pulled up for a jumper in the lane and buried a 3-point shot. UTA (8-4) took its first and only edge at 13-11 on Johnny Hamilton’s basket with 14:10 left in the half, but that quickly disappeared.

Khyri Thomas, Ronnie Harrell, Ty-Shon Alexander, Foster and Mitch Ballock all made 3-point shots over a six-minute burst that gave Creighton a 31-18 lead, and Harrell also finished off a three-point play during that stretch.

The 22 first-half points by Foster were the most by a Bluejay since Doug McDermott had 27 before the break in a 2014 Big East Tournament game against DePaul. The repertoire of shots to get there was impressive, too.

”I got some pull-ups, got to the cup tonight, and then hit some 3s,” Foster said. ”I got to get that going, too, and not just settling for my 3s, to keep the defense off balance a little bit.”

Thomas added 16 points, five assists and five rebounds.

Kevin Hervey led UT Arlington with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

UT ARLINGTON: The Mavericks were 7-1 to start the season but must find a way to recover from losing three of four. Their 49-point second half Monday night could turn into momentum for the next time out.

CREIGHTON: The Bluejays seem Big East-ready with one more nonconference game remaining before Christmas break. Being more consistent with the defensive clamps might be one takeaway from Monday night, however, as they allowed UT Arlington to pull within eight late in the game.

FOSTER SHARPER FROM 3

Foster made 4 of 8 from deep to bump his season percentage to 42.5. The senior guard, playing his second year at Creighton after two at Kansas State, shot just 34.1 percent from behind the arc a year ago and never better than 40 percent in a season.

EYES ON THE BIG GUNS

Monday’s crowd included 13 NBA scouts, many coming to watch Hervey. The 6-foot-9 senior scored 15 points in the second half.

”It’s hard to keep a guy as good as Hervey in check for the entire game,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. ”And obviously you saw some of the shots he hit, over outstretched hands.”

UP NEXT

UT Arlington hosts Cal Poly on Thursday.

Creighton hosts USC Upstate on Wednesday before its Big East opener Dec. 28 at Seton Hall.

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