No. 9 Creighton takes unbeaten record to Arizona State (Dec 20, 2016)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Creighton remained one of six undefeated NCAA Division I teams on Saturday, but just by the hair on Santa Claus’ chinny-chin-chin.

Creighton needed a remarkable defensive effort to keep its unbeaten record intact in a 66-65 home victory over Oral Roberts, which did not score in the last 6:08 after taking a 65-60 lead on a banked 3-pointer by Albert Owens.

Neither team scored after guard Marcus Foster, Creighton’s leading scorer, hit a short jumper from the lane with 3:28 remaining. Foster had 22 points and the Bluejays squandered all of a 13-point lead in the second half before recovering.

No. 9 Creighton (11-0), off to its best start in 13 seasons, will put that streak on the line at up-and-down Arizona State (6-5) on Tuesday.

“We scored on six of our last 29 possessions and won,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott told reporters.

“I’m disappointed we weren’t able to throw the knockout punch like we’ve done so often this year. Also pleased that we found a way with our backs against the wall. We had to get some stops. To their credit, they were able to do that.”

Foster, who is averaging 18.2 points per game, and point guard Maurice Watson Jr. have been the driving forces in the Bluejays’ fastest start since 2003-04, when a Dana Altman team started 12-0 before falling at Northern Iowa.

Watson Jr., a senior guard, is the triggerman for an offense that is averaging 89.3 points per game. He had 13 points and 10 assists for his fourth double-double of the season against Oral Roberts.

Watson Jr., a preseason All-Big East selection, leads NCAA Division I players with an average of 9.2 assists per game this season. He leads active players with 740 career assists and is fifth in career steals.

Arizona State continued its inconsistent ways with one of its poorer performances Saturday, an 81-70 home loss to preseason Western Athletic Conference favorite New Mexico State. After opening 2-0, the Sun Devils have alternated wins and losses in the last nine games.

Forward Obinna Oleka had 18 points and 11 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season against New Mexico State, but Arizona State shot only 41.3 percent from the floor, including 30.3 in the second half, and were closer than 10 points only once in the final 11 minutes.

“I knew it was going to be a hard game,” said Hurley, who was ejected with 9:47 remaining after receiving his second technical foul during the Aggies’ 13-2 run.

Arizona State played its first game without freshman starting small forward Sam Cunliffe, a Seattle native who left the program last week. He was averaging 9.5 points per game and had made 15 3-pointers in 10 games. He indicated personal reasons were a factor in his decision.

Reserve guard Torian Graham leads Arizona State with a 16.5 scoring average and guards Shannon Evans II (16.1) and Tra Holder (15.6) are next.

The Sun Devils are 0-2 against Top 25 teams, losing to then-No. 1 Kentucky 115-69 on Nov. 28 in the Bahamas and to No. 15 Purdue 97-64 on Nov. 6 in the Jimmy V Classic in New York City.