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Butler Bulldogs Drop Home Game against No. 5/4 Xavier

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – After winning three straight BIG EAST Conference games, the Butler Bulldogs were unable to knock off the #5/4 Xavier Musketeers at  Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday. Xavier used a large run in each half and 56.9% shooting on the afternoon to down Butler, 74-57. The fifth-ranked Musketeers improved to 22-3 (10-3 BIG EAST) with the win, while Butler fell to 17-8 (6-7).

A three-pointer from senior G Kellen Dunham gave Butler a 21-13 lead at the 11:26 mark of the first half. Xavier responded with a 22-4 run over the next eight minutes to take a 35-25 lead. The Musketeers took a 43-29 advantage into the half. Much of the scoring came from beyond the arc as Xavier made eight of 11 first-half, three-point attempts after going 1-of-21 from deep in their previous game at Creighton.

Graduate transfer G Jordan Gathers hit a three-pointer six minutes into the second half to pull Butler within seven at 47-40. Xavier would score nine of the next 10 points for a 56-41 lead with 12 minutes to play.

“Even in the opening minutes, I didn’t think our ball movement and defensive presence were what they needed to be,” said Butler Head Coach Chris Holtmann. “We need to consistently do the things that we preach. I love this group. We just need to play together on both ends of the floor.”

Xavier shot 29-of-51 (56.9%) from the field for the game, hitting at a 65-percent clip in the first half alone. Xavier connected on 9-of-18 (50%) from three. Butler shot 22-of-66 (33.3%) percent from the field and 8-of-22 (36.4%) from three. Xavier held a slight 34-30 rebounding advantage, but the Bulldogs had a 17-0 edge in second-chance points, utilizing the offensive boards to stay in the contest early on. Butler scored 12 points off of 15 Xavier turnovers while giving up nine points on nine turnovers.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Hinkle Fieldhouse (John Fetcho)
Photo: Butler Athletics/Hinkle Fieldhouse (John Fetcho)

Sophomore G Kelan Martin had his seventh double-double in the contest, posting a team-high 15 points and 12 rebounds for Butler. Junior F Andrew Chrabascz added 12. Xavier’s offense was balanced with five players scoring at least nine points, led by reserve J.P. Macura with 13

Former Butler coach Brad Stevens and his family were among the 9,344 fans in attendance at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Stevens and the Boston Celtics are off this week for the NBA All-Star Weekend. The crowd was a new record since the Fieldhouse renovations decreased the capacity 18 months ago.

Butler returns to action Tuesday night, hosting Creighton in Indianapolis. It will be the second meeting between the two teams, with the Bluejays taking the first encounter in Omaha. The tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. and tickets are still available.

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

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