Postgame: Butler falls to #5 Xavier 86-79
Butler traveled to Cincinnati to take on conference rivals Xavier for sole possession of the top spot in the Big East. Despite giving a great effort, Xavier’s high powered offense was too much for the Dawgs to handle.
Butler and Xavier each had decent shooting days from the floor (41% and 45% respectively) but the three point shooting played a role in the end result. Butler made 7-27 long balls to Xavier’s 8-20. Xavier ran an aggressive 1-3-1 zone defense throughout most of the second half of the game, that allowed Butler to get good three point looks, but the Bulldogs could not capitalize.
Butler’s Kamar Baldwin lead all scorers for 28 points, but made just 2-7 attempts. Senior forward Kelan Martin was even worse from three, making just 2-10 attempts, but finishing with 25 points.
Butler played pretty good defense in the game, holding one of the best offenses in College basketball to 86 points. Xavier got a huge offensive boost from getting to the freethrow line in this game. The Musketeers finished the game 24-37 from the stripe, and every player that logged more than 12 minutes attempted at least three foul shots.
Senior guard Trevon Bluiett finished with a team high 21 points for Xavier, and made seven out of his eight attempts from the line. J.P. Macura finished with the next best 20 points for his team.
Xavier has now won ten straight games, including wins over top 25 teams Cincinnati and Baylor. In the next week they will take a road trip to Providence and #3 Villanova.
Some positive takeaways for Butler revolve around their big men. Butler grabbed 42 rebounds in the game, led by Sean McDermott’s 11. Nate Fowler played solid minutes coming off the bench for Tyler Wideman, scoring just two points but grabbing nine rebounds and knocking back two shots. Fowler could be a key to bettering Butler’s offense, the 6’10” big man was a threat all over the floor last year but has been less of a factor in his junior season.
Also, Butler lost by single digits to a top five team in the country. While Bulldog fans might be sad that they can not upset every major team they come against, the saying “you can’t win them all,” rings true.
Butler’s momentum after their big win against Villanova might not be entirely cut off, but their schedule does not get any easier. They take on #21 Seton Hall back at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Jan. 6.
Player of the game:
J.P. Macura is playing great in his senior season, and nothing changed tonight. The veteran guard shot 4-8 from three point land and 4-6 from the stripe to finish with 20 points. His length also helped to disrupt Butler’s offense in the second half in the Xavier zone defense.
Photo credit: Omaha World-Herald