Creighton improves to 13-6 on the season and is 4-2 in the BIG EAST, including three road wins. DePaul falls to 6-12 overall and is winless in six BIG EAST games.
DePaul stormed out of the gates early, bolting to an 11-0 lead behind baskets by four different men. Zach Hanson finally helped CU get on the board with 15:32 let in the half on two free throws. The Jays steadily grew closer, getting three straight three-pointers from Cole Huff, Zierden and Ronnie Harrell Jr. The Bluejays took their first lead at 21-20 on another trey by Huff. Creighton took a 43-36 lead late in the first half on a rare six-point possession. Zierden was fouled by Tommy Hamilton IV, who then spiked the ball in disgust and earned a technical foul. Zierden made the first three foul shots but missed the fourth. CU grabbed the rebound and kicked it back out to Zierden at the top of the key, who drained the trifecta.
Creighton led 47-41 at the break, paced by 14 points from Zierden.
Creighton opened up a lead as large as 11 in the second half, as Zierden hit big shot after big shot to leave the crowd of 5,534 shaking their heads. DePaul would rally, getting within 78-75 with 2:34 to play, at the final media timeout. James Milliken took a huge charge before DePaul could get off a shot, and Zierden would be fouled and sink both. Zach Hanson would then block a shot and Milliken raced to the other end for the three-point play.
The Bluejays would drain their final 11 free throws in the last two minutes to ice the game.
Zierden’s 31 points were seven more than his previous high, and made him the first Bluejay with at least 30 points in a game since Doug McDermott in a 2014 NCAA Tournament win over Louisiana. Zierden’s eight three-pointers were one shy of the school-record, and the most in any game by a BIG EAST individual this season. He leads the BIG EAST with 52 three-pointers. Zierden was one of five men in double-figures, as he was joined by 17 from Maurice Watson Jr., 14 from Milliken, 11 from Hanson and 10 from Huff. Creighton shot 52.6 percent overall, including 13-of-26 (50 percent) from three-point range and 18-of-22 (81.8 percent) at the line. Creighton’s bench outscored DePaul’s bench 38-7 on the day.
DePaul was led by 21 points each from Myke Henry and Eli Cain, while Hamilton finished with 13 and Billy Garrett Jr. added 10. DePaul shot 54.4 percent for the game and finished 6-of-19 from three-point range despite draining its first three long-range tries. DePaul won the rebounding battle 35-23.
Creighton returns to action on Saturday when it hosts No. 23 Butler at 6:37 pm at CenturyLink Center Omaha.