LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — Oumar Ballo dominated inside with 30 points and 13 rebounds for No. 14 Arizona, who edged No. 10 Creighton 81-79 on Wednesday to win the Maui Invitational for the third time.
The combination of the unstoppable 7-foot, 260-pound Ballo and his speedy, talented supporting cast was just enough for the Wildcats (6-0) to remain undefeated. Kerr Kriisa added 13 points and nine assists, Azuolas Tubelis had 12 points and Courtney Ramey had 10. Arizona had their last points with 2:21 but managed to hold on.
Ryan Nembhard scored 20 points for Creighton (6-1), who was attempting to beat a ranked opponent for the third straight day. Ryan Kalkbrenner added 16 points, Trey Alexander had 15, and Baylor Scheierman had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Arizona appeared to be retiring late, but the Bluejays stayed around.
Scheierman made a layup with 2:41 left to pull Creighton to 79-72, but Kriisa made a nice pass to Ballo for a dunk and an 81-72 lead with 2:21 left. He was fouled but missed the free throw.
Nembhard made a layup and Scheierman a 3-pointer to put Creighton at 81-77. Kalkbrenner made one of two free throws to reduce the deficit to three. Ramey missed a 3-point attempt by 18 seconds.
Creighton called timeout with 7.4 seconds left to set up one last game. Kalkbrenner didn’t have an open 3 and passed to Nembhard who was fouled by Ramey with 2 seconds left. He made the first shot and intentionally missed the second, with Arizona rebounding.
Ballo was strong from the start, scoring 16 points and nine rebounds in the first half to help the Wildcats take a 39-30 lead.
Creighton: The Bluejays reached the title game by defeating No. 21 Texas Tech in the opening round and stopping No. 9 Arkansas in the semifinals.
Arizona: The Wildcats also won the Maui Invitational in 2000 and 2014. Coach Tommy Lloyd was involved in two Maui titles in 2009 and 2018 as a Gonzaga assistant.
Creighton plays at No. 1 as part of the Big 12-Big East Battle on December 1st. 4 Texas.
Arizona opens Dec. 1 Pac-12 game in Utah.
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