BROOKLYN – St. John’s captured the Legends Classic title with a dramatic 87-86 win over VCU. Creighton advanced to the title game of the Cayman Islands Classic, while Xavier lost a second-round game to San Diego State in the Maui Invitational.
Playing in his home borough of Brooklyn at Barclays Center, Shamorie Ponds scored the Johnnies’ final six points of the game, including a driving layup high off the glass to give St. John’s its first in-season tournament crown since 2010. Ponds, who was named tournament MVP, posted 35 points, seven assists and seven steals. Sophomore L.J. Figueroa added 15 points and nine rebounds.
Creighton cruised to a 93-68 victory over Georgia State in the second round at the Cayman Islands. The Bluejays built a 52-24 lead by halftime. Sophomore guard Mitch Ballock enjoyed his most productive game as a collegian with 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Damien Jefferson added 20 points and six boards. Marcus Zegarowski contributed 14 points. Creighton will meet No. 16 Clemson in tonight’s title game at 7:30 p.m. The only previous meeting between the two schools came on Dec. 12, 1962 when Creighton won 87-67 behind Paul Silas’ 23 points and 29 rebounds.
Xavier built a 32-13 lead in the first half against San Diego State, but could not hold on in the second half, losing 79-74. Quentin Goodin notched a career-high 20 points and grad transfer Zach Hankins added 15 points. The Musketeers play Illinois at 9 p.m. on ESPNU. Xavier and Illinois shared a chartered plane to get to Maui. Illinois lost to Georgetown 88-80 last week in the Gavitt Tipoff Games.
Also on Wednesday, Marquette (3-1) will meet No. 2 Kansas in the NIT Season Tip-Off on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. at Barclays Center. The Golden Eagles’ last trip to Brooklyn resulted in a Legends Classic title in 2015. Markus Howard leads MU in scoring with a 20.0 average. The last meeting between the two teams was a Kansas victory in the 2003 Final Four semifinals in New Orleans in the final game of Dwyane Wade’s collegiate career. Marquette’s only win in the series (1-6) came in the 1974 Final Four semifinals in Greensboro, N.C.
Butler starts play at the Battle 4 Atlantis with a game against Dayton. ESPNews will televise at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs (3-0) return to the Bahamas tourney after a third-place finish in 2014. Butler has posted a winning record in each of its last four Thanksgiving tournaments, including a 2-1 mark in the PK80 in Portland last year. Guard Kamar Baldwin leads the team in scoring (23.3), rebounding (6.7) and assists (5.7).