Following a stretch of cold offensive performances, the Butler Bulldogs turned up the offensive intensity to seal an 88-76 victory over the visiting Xavier Musketeers.
Rob O'Neill and I will take a closer look at Butler's performance in the coming week. But for now, here's three key takeaways:
1. Butler got the offensive monkey off their back
After a couple of rough games from Roosevelt Jones and Andrew Chrabascz to start out conference play, I wrote about the team's lack of offensive creativity and their failure to take some of the pressure off Kellen Dunham. And boy, did they make me look stupid tonight.
Not only did the Bulldogs finish with all five starters in double-digit scoring, Dunham didn't even hit his first FG of the night until the eight minute mark in the second half. Chrabascz was a marvel, hitting a series of runners, tip-ins, mid-range shots and creative post looks.
The sophomore forward finished with a team-high 19 points and continued to force his way to line, knocking down 7-of-9 attempts at the charity stripe. Jones was terrific, and while there were still a few cringe-worthy moments, he dropped 16 points and picked up seven assists, three rebounds and two steal in the process. The team was in foul trouble for most of the game, with Chrabascz, Kameron Woods, Alex Barlow and Tyler Wideman each finishing with four fouls, but they spread the ball around so well offensively that it didn't matter.
2. #HotTake: Matt Stainbrook is really good at basketball
Jokes aside, the big guy had a tremendous game, dropping 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting while dominating down in the post. It felt like there was a stretch in the second half where every shot Stainbrook was taking resulted in an and-1 scenario for the Musketeers, and until the Bulldogs threw Wideman on him near the end of the game, he was damn near unstoppable down low.
He's a big part of why Butler had to foul so much throughout the game, and his accuracy at the free throw line makes him one of the most well-rounded centers in the nation. It's no surprise we ranked Stainbrook as the No. 1 center in the conference prior to the start of the season. He's earned it.
3. Hinkle Fieldhouse got LOUD tonight
It's something about these Butler fans when Xavier comes to town, but the atmosphere at Hinkle tonight was as loud as it has been in a while. This is my fourth year going to Butler games, and I can't remember the crowd getting into a game like they did tonight since the Bulldogs upset then-No. 1 Gonzaga at home during the 2012-13 season. Xavier isn't a crazy drive from Indianapolis, and the Muskies had fans out in droves for this game, but it didn't matter. This was a classic example of how hard it is to win on the road in the Big East.