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Butler Cruises to Victory Over Xavier

Bulldogs use defense and long-range shooting to top Musketeers

NCAA Basketball: Butler at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Henry Baddley didn’t play much when the Butler Bulldogs got smoked by Marquette on Sunday, but he must have been watching and learning from the Golden Eagles. Just a few days after Baddley’s Bulldogs were buried by Marquette threes, Baddley came off the bench against Xavier and unleashed a flurry of triples, scoring nine points in just four minutes, extending Butler’s first half lead to 11 points. The lead eventually ballooned to 17, and while Xavier drew close a couple times, they never recovered from the early blow and the Bulldogs prevailed, 66-61.

Butler used defense and three-point shooting to jump out to a big lead in the first half. At the beginning of the second half, the Bulldogs used the open driving lanes their shooting had created to score ten straight points in the paint, and they seemed to be firmly in control. That was when Aaron Thompson took a nasty shoulder to the face from Jason Carter that knocked him out of the game and into the locker room.

The Bulldogs have often appeared rudderless without Thompson on the floor, and this time proved no different. The Musketeers immediately went on an 11-0 run, cutting the lead to just six. A Derrik Smits jumper quieted the loud contingent of Xavier fans at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

The Bulldogs were able to find their footing again behind the hot shooting of Jordan Tucker. Tucker hit a long two with 10:20 remaining, and a few minutes later he drained threes on back-to-back possessions to give Butler a 14-point lead.

Xavier battled down the stretch, pressuring defensively and extending the game with fouls, but never really threatened to overtake the Bulldogs. Butler improves to 7-5 in Big East play while Xavier falls to 5-7. The two teams will meet again on March 7.


Takeaways

Butler: Getting Everybody Involved

Butler plays great defense, but their lack of offensive firepower crippled them against Marquette. In this one, the Bulldogs moved the ball around and created open looks for a number of different guys. There were far fewer possessions in this game where Kamar Baldwin was dribbling around for 20 seconds, desperately looking for an opening; instead, the Bulldogs had six different guys score between 4-10 points, with Sean McDermott and Baldwin scoring 14 and 11, respectively. The Bulldogs need to continue to execute their offense and get everyone involved.

Xavier: Bench Scoring

In a game where Xavier scored just 61 points, their starters not only scored, but scored efficiently. Naji Marshall and Tyrique Jones combined for 39 points on 15-23 shooting and Zach Freemantle chipped in nine. But the Musketeers got almost nothing from their reserves, with the bench shooting just 2-8 from the field. With the tough, physical style Xavier plays, foul trouble is going to be a common occurrence, and if they can’t get anything from the supporting cast, they will get beat by deeper teams.


Next Up

Butler hosts Georgetown on Saturday, February 15, at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Xavier plays at St. John’s on Monday, February 17, at 8:30 p.m. ET.