DENVER — Ryan Kalkbrenner scored a career-high 31 points and sixth-seeded Creighton overcame an abysmal 3-point shooting day to fend off No. 11 seed NC State 72-63 on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The 7-foot-1 Kalkbrenner did a little bit of everything for the Bluejays, which included hitting a big 3-pointer on a day the team finished 3 of 20 from long range.
The slender Kalkbrenner had six dunks and 10 rebounds, and NC State big men DJ Burns Jr. and Ebenezer Dowuona were hampered by foul trouble.
Next up for the Bluejays (22-12) is third-seeded Baylor in the second round in the South Region. The Bears beat Santa Barbara in the early game.
Leading 62-59, Baylor Scheierman drained a 3-pointer with 2:23 remaining to give Creighton some separation. A pair of free throws for Kalkbrenner, a block by Trey Alexander and another basket from Scheierman — complete with blowing the crowd a kiss — and the Bluejays were on their way to a hard-earned win.
Terquavion Smith led the Wolfpack (23-11) with 32 points. The team started slow, going 0 for 8 from the field to open the game, and never found its rhythm from deep. It was 3 for 14 from 3-point range.
It’s been quite a turnaround for an NC State team that went 11-21 last season.
The Bluejays faced Baylor in their second game of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Bears won 85-55.