GEORGE TOWN, Grand Cayman — Sophomores Mitch Ballock (23) and Damien Jefferson (20) each had career-highs in points as Creighton men’s basketball defeated Georgia State, 93-68 on Tuesday to advance to the championship game of the Cayman Islands Classic.
Ballock’s career-high came one year to the day since a breakout 22-point performance in a win over No. 23 UCLA, while Jefferson eclipsed his career-high of 16 points set one day earlier vs. Boise State.
Creighton (4-1) will meet unbeaten and 16th-ranked Clemson (5-0) on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. CST in the title game of the Cayman Islands Classic.
Creighton got off to a quick start, sinking its first four shots to bolt to an 11-4 lead. Ballock drained a corner three-pointer on CU’s initial possession and the Bluejays held GSU scoreless for nearly four minutes before the Panthers finally cracked the scoring column. The lead stretched to 17-6 after three-pointers by Ty-Shon Alexander and Ballock, as Creighton made 6-of-7 shots to open the contest.
After Georgia State closed within 18-12 Creighton would use an 8-0 run to make it 26-12 after three-pointers from Ballock and Marcus Zegarowski, followed by a hoop from Alexander.
Creighton blew the game wide open with a 24-4 run to take a 52-24 lead into the break. Creighton’s sophomores had 39 points in the opening stanza, as Jefferson (14), Ballock (11) and Alexander (10) all reached double-figures. Creighton made 20-of-33 shots (60.6 percent) in the first half, including 8-of-17 three-pointers, while holding the Panthers to 0-for-10 marksmanship from downtown.
Georgia State scored the first six points of the second half to put a scare into CU, but Creighton quickly took back control and expanded its lead to 66-36 with 13:42 to go on a transition lay-up by Marcus Zegarowski and were never threatened.
Talented freshman Christian Bishop made his debut in the final five minutes, running the floor for a transition lay-up on his first collegiate touch and adding a thunderous putback dunk in the final minute to cap CU’s scoring.
Creighton sank 14 three-pointers on the night, including a career-high six trifectas from Ballock. CU dished 22 assists on 36 hoops and also swatted six shots.
Georgia State was paced by 20 points from Kane Williams and 21 from reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year D’Marcus Simonds.