It was raining three's for the No. 5 Xavier Musketeers tonight, as the team exactly 50 percent from downtown en route to a 74-57 road victory over the Butler Bulldogs on Saturday. The Musketeers connected on eight of their 11 attempts from three-point territory in the first half, led by sophomore guard J.P. Macura, who finished with a team-high 13 points and hit three treys on the night.
After going for no points in the team's last two games, Xavier guard Remy Abell broke his scoreless streak against the Bulldogs, scoring 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting. As has been the case for the Musketeers for most of the season, the team's offensive attack was very spread out, with four different scoring in double digits. Trevon Bluiett, a local Indianapolis high school who was heavily recruited by Butler before committing to Xavier, was greeted with a wave of boos from the Butler crowd, adding 11 points and four rebounds.
The Bulldogs, despite dominating on the offensive glass, struggled to open up the Xavier defense, especially near the rim. Butler won the offensive rebounding margin 11-2, turning those boards into 17 second chance points, but when it came to breaking through the zone down low, the Musketeers made things difficult all night for the Bulldog offense. Sophomore guard Kelan Martin, who had scored over 23 points in three of Butler's last four games, had an especially difficult go of things en route to a relatively quiet 6-of-20 shooting performance. Martin finished with a game-high 15 points and 12 rebounds, with 11 of his points coming in the game's first half.
Overall, the Bulldogs shot just 33 percent from the field and 36 percent from deep on the night. Senior guard Kellen Dunham, junior forward Andrew Chrabascz and graduate senior Jordan Gathers each had two makes from behind the three-point arc, and Chrabscz trailed only Martin in the team's scoring column with 12 points.
The Musketeers got a huge chunk of their points from their bench, who showed off their depth on their way to 36 points combined. The bulk of this came from Macura and freshman guard Edmond Sumner, who finished the night with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists.
After a disappointing loss to Creighton earlier this week, this was a nice bounce-back for Xavier, who improved to 22-3 with the win. On the flip side, the Bulldogs continue looking for a signature conference win, now losing twice to both Xavier and Providence. Things looked nice for Butler early, jumping out to an early 21-13 lead, but as the shooters cooled off and the Musketeers tightened up on D, Xavier cemented both its lead and its status as a legitimate national heavyweight.
Next up, the Bulldogs will take on Creighton in a re-match at home on Tuesday, Feb. 16, beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET. For the Musketeers, they'll return home to face Providence on Wednesday, Feb. 17, looking for their second win against the Friars this season. That game will tip off at 7:00 p.m. ET.