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Creighton stays hot, advances to Sweet 16 after taking down Baylor

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Ryan Nembhard had a career-high 30 points and No. 6 seed Creighton found its shooting touch to beat third-seeded Baylor 85-76 on Sunday night and earn a spot in the Sweet 16 for the second time in three seasons.

With Baylor heavily focused on containing big man Ryan Kalkbrenner, Nembhard and the Bluejays went to work from outside. They shot 45.8% from 3-point range after a 3-for-20 showing in a first-round win over North Carolina State. They also went 22 of 22 from the free throw line, including 10 for 10 from Nembhard.

The Bluejays (23-12) will meet 15th-seeded Princeton in Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday in the NCAA Tournament. Princeton reached the South Region semifinals with wins over Arizona and Missouri.

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The Creighton Bluejays bench reacts after a three point basket during the second half against the Baylor Bears in the second round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Ball Arena on March 19, 2023 in Denver, Colorado.

The Creighton Bluejays bench reacts after a three point basket during the second half against the Baylor Bears in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Ball Arena on March 19, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

LJ Cryer finished with 30 points for Baylor (23-11), which lost in the second round for the second consecutive year after winning the championship in 2021. Big 12 freshman of the year Keyonte George was held to seven points, well below his average of 15.6. George is projected as a potential lottery pick — should he decide to leave after this season.

Leading by double digits, the Bluejays extended the lead — and pumped up the crowd — on back-to-back 3-pointers from Francisco Farabello and Nembhard.

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The Bears cut it to 79-70 with around 3 minutes remaining, but turnovers kept them from getting any closer.

Trey Alexander added 17 points, Arthur Kaluma 11 and Kalkbrenner had 10.

Flo Thamba #0 of the Baylor Bears looks on during the second half against the Creighton Bluejays in the second round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Ball Arena on March 19, 2023 in Denver, Colorado.

Flo Thamba #0 of the Baylor Bears looks on during the second half against the Creighton Bluejays in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Ball Arena on March 19, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Nembhard, whose brother, Andrew, plays for the Indiana Pacers, was 4 of 6 from 3-point range. His previous high was 25 against Arkansas on Nov. 22.

This could be telling for Creighton: The Bears have lost to the eventual national champion four times (1946, 1948, 2010 and 2012) and to runner-up North Carolina last season.

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BIG PICTURE

Creighton: Improved to 18-24 all-time in the tournament.

Baylor: The Bears are 19-10 in the NCAA Tournament under coach Scott Drew.

Ryan Nembhard #2 of the Creighton Bluejays reacts after a three point basket during the second half against the Baylor Bears in the second round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Ball Arena on March 19, 2023 in Denver, Colorado.

Ryan Nembhard #2 of the Creighton Bluejays reacts after a three point basket during the second half against the Baylor Bears in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Ball Arena on March 19, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

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Not much recent between Creighton and Princeton. The Jays did beat the Tigers 63-54 on Dec. 29, 1961.

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