INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs, looking for their first Big East Conference win at home this season, put together a solid team effort and picked up the 88-76 win over the Xavier Musketeers at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday, January 10. All five Butler starters scored in double-figures and the Bulldogs used a hot-shooting second half to pull away from Xavier. The win lifted Butler to 12-5 on the season and to 2-2 in the BIG EAST.
Sophomore forward Andrew Chrabascz led the Butler offensive assault with a season-high 19 points, while junior guard Roosevelt Jones added 16. Senior guard Alex Barlow finished with 15 points, finishing 3-of-4 from three, senior forward Kameron Woods posted his second consecutive double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds and junior guard Kellen Dunham added 10 points.
The Bulldogs, who led 34-31 at halftime, hit 16-of-25 (64%) shots in the second half, including 4-of-8 from beyond the three-point arc.
“Our guys played with a spirit that made me proud,” said Butler Head Coach Chris Holtmann after the win. “There are games you really feel good about for the right reasons. I feel good about this game, because our seniors get to go out with a home win in this particular series. We’ve said all along you’re as tough as you play on that given night, and tonight we showed good toughness.”
The Bulldogs, coming off a narrow 66-62 loss to Providence earlier in the week, needed to be at their very best against a Xavier team that came in as the top offensive squad in the BIG EAST. The Musketeers (11-5, 2-2 BIG EAST) entered the game with a 79.2 season scoring average, and the Cincinnati team was coming off an 11-point victory over #19 Seton Hall.
The game couldn’t have been more tightly contested in the first 20 minutes. The score was tied ten times and the two teams traded leads five times. Butler, trailing 31-29 in the final two minutes of the opening period, grabbed the lead on three consecutive free throws by Dunham and then took a three-point lead at halftime on two more free throws from the 6-6 sophomore. The five free throws were the only points in the first half from Dunham, who entered the game as the third-leading scorer in the BIG EAST. Chrabascz and Jones each scored a team-high eight points for the Bulldogs in the first 20 minutes.
The Bulldogs shot only 33.3% (9-27) in the first half from the field while Xavier shot a better 40.9% (9-22). Both teams struggled from three, shooting 28.6% (2-7) from deep.
“We were playing with a level of energy and toughness that allowed us to be in that position,” said Holtmann of his team’s first half lead. “I liked our guys’ juice, for lack of a better word. We fought through some missed shots, and I felt like some shots were going to fall.”
Chrabascz opened the second half with his seco
nd three-point field goal to give the Bulldogs their biggest lead to that point, but Xavier answered with a 6-0 run to tie the game. The two teams traded leads until a dunk by Woods put the Bulldogs on top for good, 49-47.
Butler then used a 17-8 run midway through the final period to stretch the margin to double-digits, 73-63, and the Bulldogs held on by hitting 9-of-10 free throw attempts in the final 1:08.
Butler finished with a 37-26 rebounding advantage, including a 13-8 edge in offensive rebounds. The Bulldogs out-scored the visitors, 21-11, on second chance points.
In addition to the five starters who scored in double-figures, Butler picked up eight points and nine rebounds off the bench from freshman forward Tyler Wideman and five points from freshman guard Kelan Martin.
“The balance we had tonight was the difference,” noted Holtmann.
Center Matt Stainbrook led Xavier with 21 points, while Indiana transfer Remy Abell added 15.
The win closed out a brief two-game homestand for the Bulldogs. Butler will visit nationally-ranked Seton Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 13, for a 7 p.m. (ET) contest, before ending the week at Georgetown on Saturday, Jan. 17.
Chris Fultz is a senior writer for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler Athletics and has full media access. Follow @CafultzISR and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter.
Chris Fultz is a Senior Writer and the Butler Athletics beat writer for the Indiana Sports Report. Chris Fultz is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler University Athletics and has full media access.
All images appearing in the Indiana Sports Report web site are the exclusive property of Indiana Sports Report, the photographer and are protected under the United States and International Copyright laws. The images may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without the written permission of Indiana Sports Report and/or the photographer.
All Content and Images (c) 2013-2016, Indiana Sports Report. All Rights Reserved.