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Xavier topples Butler in Cincinnati

The Musketeers are 15-1 after a victory over their rivals.

NCAA Basketball: Butler at Xavier Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

After getting swept in both meetings last season, the Xavier Musketeers got revenge on the Butler Bulldogs with an 86-79 victory on Tuesday evening in Cincinnati.

Trevon Bluiett led the way for the Musketeers with 21 points, 16 of which came either in the second half or the final minute of the first half. Bluiett struggled to get it going early, but his personal 5-0 run in the final minute of the first half ignited him for the rest of the game.

While Bluiett was struggling to get going on offense, JP Macura carried the load. Macura had 15 points in the first half, including 12 in the first six minutes of the game to set the tone for Xavier and provide an answer for Butler’s Kelan Martin, who had 13 first half points of his own.

Martin finished the night with 25 points, second to Kamar Baldwin’s 28. It’s good that Butler got 53 points from the two of them, but they combined to take 50 shots. You would like to see a bit more efficiency.

Another thing that stood out in this game? Xavier’s free throw shooting. Coming into the night they were shooting 80.3% from the stripe as a team, good for third-best in the nation. The Musketeers put up a 24-37 (64.9%) performance from the line Tuesday evening. Had they been closer to their season average, they would have picked up a double-digit victory.

With all that said, it was an impressive wire-to-wire win for the Musketeers over their rival who knocked off the nation’s top team over the weekend. If Xavier keeps taking care of business, they may very well upset Villanova for the Big East regular season title.

Xavier (15-1, 3-0) heads to Providence on Saturday, while Butler (12-4, 2-1) hosts Seton Hall.