BROOKLYN – St. John’s and Creighton began their respective Thanksgiving tournament weeks with Monday victories while Xavier lost in overtime.
Shamorie Ponds, the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year, took over late in the Johnnies’ game against California, scoring 16 of his game-high 32 points in the final seven minutes of an 82-79 victory in the Legends Classic at Barclays Center. Ponds, a native of Brooklyn, registered his seventh 30-point game of his career. St. John’s, 4-0 for the second straight season, will meet VCU Tuesday night in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2. The Johnnies will be aiming for their first early-season tournament crown since they won the Great Alaska Shootout in 2011.
At the Cayman Islands Classic, Creighton used a balanced scoring attack to defeat Boise State 94-82. Ty-Shon Alexander led four players in double figures with 18 points. Transfer Damien Jefferson added 16 points and six rebounds. Freshman guard Marcus Zegarowski was productive off the bench again, finishing with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists. The Bluejays take on Georgia State Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in the semifinals.
Xavier erased an 11-point deficit in the second half to push No. 8 Auburn to overtime, but lost 88-79 in the first round of the Maui Invitational. Ryan Welage paced five players in double figures with 17 points. Paul Scruggs helped with 16 points and seven rebounds. The Musketeers meet San Diego State today at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN. Welage faced the Aztecs while he played for San Jose State for three seasons before transferring to Xavier.