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Butler Bulldogs Fall to No. 5/5 Xavier in Overtime at Hinkle Fieldhouse

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Butler Bulldogs, looking to pick up a fifth straight win, hosted the #5/5 Xavier Musketeers for a BIG EAST Conference matchup at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Tuesday, February 5. Butler overcame an 18-point first half deficit and senior F Kelan Martin scored a game-high 34 points, but it wasn’t enough as the Bulldogs fell 98-93 in overtime. Butler falls to 17-8 (7-5 BIG EAST) while Xavier improves to 22-3 (10-2 BIG EAST).

“This is a difficult one to swallow,” said Butler Head Coach LaVall Jordan. “Hinkle was electric and our guys fought. I’m proud of how we competed and how we gave ourselves a chance to win. This was a game where you had to keep responding. Our guys did it and their guys did too. The spirit we had tonight, we’ll take that every time. We just came out on the wrong end of this one tonight.”

Butler won the opening tip and scored first as senior F Tyler Widman grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed three attempt from senior F Kelan Martin and scored on the putback. A jumper from Xavier senior G J.P. Macura tied the game before baskets from Wideman and Xavier graduate transfer F Kerem Kanter brought us to a tie at 4-4 with 18:33 remaining in the first half. A three from sophomore G Kamar Baldwin and a layup from Kelan Martin gave the Bulldogs a 9-4 lead with 17:28 remaining in the first half. Xavier responded with 8-0 run that saw senior G Trevon Bluiett score on back-to-back threes. A pair of free throws from Tyler Wideman ended the run and brought the score to 14-11 with 14:30 remaining in the first half. Xavier rattled off a 15-0 run and the Bulldogs struggled through a 5:33 long scoring drought. The Xavier run started on an And-1 dunk by graduate F/C Sean O’Mara and saw Kanter score seven straight points, including a make from three. A three from Kelan Martin broke the Butler scoring drought and brought the lead to 29-14 with 8:57 before halftime. Redshirt sophomore F Sean McDermott and Kamar Baldwin scored the next points of the game to trim the lead to 29-18 at the 7:11 first half mark. Following a Xavier layup by O’Mara, Kelan Martin scored the next four points on a jumper and free throws to take the Xavier lead down to nine at 31-22 with 5:00 remaining in the first half. Butler cut the lead down to eight twice in the final minutes. A layup from junior C Nate Fowler brought the game to 32-24 at the 3:56 mark before a three from McDermott brought the game to 35-27 with 3:12 remaining in the first half. Xavier responded with a three from junior F Kaiser Gates and held a 40-29 lead at the 1:43 first half mark. A free throw and missed three at the buzzer by Kamar Baldwin brought the halftime score to 40-30.

The Bulldogs finished the first half shooting 45.8% (11-24) from the field, including 25% (3-12) from three. The Musketeers finished the first half at 66.7% (16-24) from the field, including 62.5% (5-8) from three. Kerem Kanter led all scorers with 11 first half points.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Butler Senior Forward Kelan Martin

The Bulldogs opened the second half scoring with a three from Kelan Martin to cut the lead to 40-33 with 18:59 remaining. After baskets from redshirt junior G Paul Jorgensen and Martin cut the lead to 42-37, Xavier scored on a layup from Kanter. Thankfully for the Bulldogs, Kelan Martin caught fire in the second half and drilled his third three of the game in response to bring the lead down to 44-40 with 16:57 remaining. Xavier built a 48-42 lead before a layup from Nate Fowler and a second three from McDermott cut the lead to 48-47 with 14:08 remaining. Xavier answered on a jumper by O’Mara, but a layup from Fowler and a third three from McDermott in the corner gave the Bulldogs a 52-50 lead with 12:47 remaining. A fourth three from Martin gave the Bulldogs a 59-55 lead before Martin pulled up for a fifth make from three on the next Butler possession to extend the lead to 62-56 with 9:14 remaining in the game.

But Trevon Bluiett led the Xavier charge in the final minutes. Bluiett responded to the fifth Kelan Martin three with his fourth three of the game and eventually tied the game on three free throws at 66-66 with 6:42 remaining. After Gates tied the game again at the free throw line, Bluiett gave the Musketeers the lead on two free throws at 70-68 with 5:44 remaining in the second half. Xavier went on the build a five point lead on a And-1 three-point play by freshman F Naji Marshall at 75-70 before Kelan Martin rained home a sixth three to bring the Xavier lead down to 72-70 with 4:05 remaining in the game. Following a pair of free throws from O’Mara, Blueitt extended the Xavier lead to 80-73 with a fifth three and 1:57 remaining in the game. Both teams traded free throws before a fourth three from McDermott cut the Xavier lead to 82-78 with 0:59 remaining. A turnover by Xavier after the inbounds play resulted in a fifth three by McDermott while fading to his right at the top of the key. The three cut the lead to 82-81 with 0:45 remaining. Kanter scored on a jumper in the post, but Kamar Baldwin responded with a three to tie the game at 84-84 with 0:13 remaining. A Kanter three point attempt resulted in a miss and half court heavy by Kelan Martin to win the game, but the shot missed and sent the game to overtime.

A three by Naji Marshall opened the overtime period and gave Xavier an 87-84 lead with 4:41 remaining in the game. Back-to-back layups from Baldwin and Fowler put Butler back on top at 88-87 with 3:22 remaining in overtime. But a bucket from Kanter and a free throw and jumper from Bluiett gave Xavier a 92-88 lead with 0:59 remaining. Kamar Baldwin would trim the lead with two free throws before a deep three from Bluiett, his sixth of the game, gave the Musketeers a 95-90 lead with 0:25 remaining. The Bulldogs missed a pair of free throws on the next possession and were forced to foul the rest of the game. The Xavier lead grew to 98-90 as Marshall hit three free throws before a third three from Baldwin closed the game at 98-93 with 0:04 remaining.

The Bulldogs finished the game shooting 53.2% (33-62) from the field, including 45.2% (14-31) from three. Xavier finished at 59.3% (32-54) from the field, including 47.6% (10-21) from three.

Xavier shot 85.7% (24-28) from the free throw line compared to 81.3% (13-16) for Butler.

Senior F Kelan Martin scored a game-high 34 points on a 10-19 (52.6%) shooting performance, including 6-12 (50%) display from three. The six three-pointers is a career-high. He made all eight of his trips to the free throw line and played all 45 minutes.

Redshirt sophomore F Sean McDermott tied his career-high with 17 points. He went 5-6 (83.3%) from behind the arc. Sophomore G Kamar Baldwin had 16 points, including a 3-6 (50%) shooting day from three.  Redshirt junior G Paul Jorgensen had a game-high five assists. Senior F Tyler Widman tied Kelan Martin with a game-high seven rebounds.

Trevon Bluiett had 26 points and went 6-9 from long range. Kanter added 22.

The Bulldogs travel to #1/1 Villanova on Saturday, looking for a season sweep against the Wildcats. The game will be broadcast nationally on FOX at Noon. Butler then returns home, hosting the next three games at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Those are the final three home games of the season.

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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