Canadian point guard Ryan Nembhard scored a career-high 30 points to lead the Creighton Bluejays to an 85-76 upset win over the No. 3 Baylor Bears to advance to the Sweet 16 of the 2023 NCAA men’s March Madness tournament.
Nembhard connected on 8-of-13 field-goal attempts, tied a career-high with four made three-pointers, and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the foul line in the win over the 2021 NCAA champions.
Nembhard’s impressive performance puts him in a select group of only five other Canadian players who have scored 30 or more points in a NCAA tournament game. The others to have accomplished this feat, including Bob Houbregs, Brandon Clarke MacCulloch and Bennedict Mathurin.
A late season right wrist injury prevented the sophomore guard playing in the 2022 March Madness as Creighton bowed out in the second round to eventual champions Kansas Jayhawks.
The 2022 Big East freshman of the year was locked in from the start, “super prepared, I work all year, I work every day to make sure I’m ready for moments like this. I’m ready for the moment, I’m super happy we got the dub.” said Nembhard during the post-game interview.
Asked if the win over Baylor was bittersweet, as the Bears defeated Gonzaga in the 2021 title game, denying Ryan’s older brother a national championship.
“A little bit payback, but we are different players, it’s a big win for our program, we are looking forward to the sweet sixteen, we are not done yet, so we got a lot more to prove.”
Head coach Greg McDermott also had high praise for his star guard and reminiced on the time him came across Nembhard, “I remember the first the time I saw him play in Vegas in a side gym. We were watching somebody else and I said who is that little guy from Canada.”
“I fell in love with him the first time I watched him play,” McDermott said. “His expression never changes. He has the type of demeanour that you want the rest of the team to look to because he’s never going to be rattled. He is never going to get too high when things are going well, and is never going to get too low if he is struggling.”
Creighton will play the Cinderella and upset-minded No. 15 Princeton Tigers in the Sweet 16. The Tigers stunned the No. 2 Arizona Wildcats 77-70 in the opening round and knocked-off No.7 Missouri Tigers 78-65 to reach the sweet 16 for the first time in the school history.