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No. 12/13 Butler Bulldogs Hold On To Beat No. 15/14 Xavier at Hinkle Fieldhouse

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The #12/13 Butler Bulldogs returned home to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday to host the #15/14 Xavier Musketeers in a BIG EAST Conference showdown. Freshman G Kamar Baldwin scored a team and career high 21 points to lead Butler to the 83-78 win. Butler improves to 15-3 (4-2 BIG EAST) while Xavier falls to 13-4 (3-2 BIG EAST). Butler won its 13th consecutive home game and are now 5-1 against ranked teams this season.

“Our guys just made really important plays down the stretch today,” said Butler Head Coach Chris Holtmann. “We weathered some difficult moments and were able to dictate things offensively more in the second half. I have the utmost confidence in our guys in these late-game situations, and they stepped up and made free throws.”

Photo: Butler Athletics/Butler Freshman Guard Kamar Baldwin

After winning the opening tip, Xavier scored the first points of the game on a layup by senior G Malcolm Bernard. Following a foul on Xavier junior G Trevon Bluiett, Butler senior F Andrew Chrabascz responded with a hook shot. A jumper senior by F Rashid Gaston gave Xavier an 8-4 with 15:08 remaining in the first half before Butler junior F Kelan Martin came off the bench to score five points for the Bulldogs, including a bucket from three, to cut an 11-6 Xavier lead to 11-9. Following the made three, junior F Tyler Wideman was found open for a dunk that tied the game at 11-11 with 12:47 in the first half. Xavier managed to build a four point lead, but a three by Butler graduate transfer G Avery Woodson tied the game again at 16-16 with 9:12 remaining in the first half. Butler redshirt senior G Kethan Savage tied the game on a pair of free throws and Chrabascz gave Butler the lead following a timeout at 20-18 with 7:10 remaining before the break. But the lead didn’t last long as Xavier went on a 10-0 run to take a 29-20 lead with 3:07 remaining before halftime. Avery Woodson hit another three to close the half with Xavier leading 31-25.

Butler scored a season low 25 first half points. The Bulldogs shot 9-of-25 (36%) from the field in the first half, including 3-of-13 (25%) from three. Xavier finished the first half shooting 10-of-21 (47.6%) from the field, including 2-of-6 (33.3%) from deep. Butler won the first half rebounding battle, 19-15, but gave up 10 points on seven turnovers. Xavier gave up five points on five turnovers. Kelan Martin, Kethan Savage and Tyler Wideman scored 15 bench points while Xavier recorded five.

Thankfully for Butler, the Bulldogs came out of the halftime break with revamped life as they went on an 9-0 run and took a 34-31 lead on two Tyler Wideman free throws with 17:21 to go. Xavier junior G J.P. Macura ended the run on a three that tied the game again at 34-34 with 16:56 remaining. A Macura layup gave Xavier a 37-36 lead with 15:26, but it for the last time in the game. A Kelan Martin steal led to a fastbreak Matin alley-oop layup from redshirt senior PG Tyler Lewis, who through the pass from halfcourt. The next play resulted in another Butler steal, this time from Kamar Baldwin, who took the ball all the way for an easy fastbreak one-handed jam. The two key plays gave Butler a 40-37 lead with 14:21 remaining. Both teams traded free throws for the next few posessions before a three-pointer by Baldwin gave Butler a 47-43 lead with 11:22 remaining. Four straight Baldwin points off a baseline stepback jumper and free throws helped extended the Butler lead to 53-45 with 9:36 remaining. A steal by Tyler Wideman led to a layup for Kethan Savage that gave Butler a 61-52 lead, its largest of the game, with 6:59 remaining. Xavier managed to claw its way back as the Butler lead was cut to 66-63 on a Macura three with 4:37 remaining. Butler built the lead back to eight, but another Macura three cut the lead to 72-69 with 2:06 remaining. Malcolm Bernard cut the Butler lead to one on step-back three at 73-72 with 0:37 remaining. Both teams traded fouls, but it was Butler who hit 10-of-10 clutch free throws to keep the lead at three in the final seconds and hold on for the 83-78 win.

Butler put up season high 58 points in the second half to finish the game 23-of-50 (46%) from the field, including 4-of-19 (21.1%) from three. Butler capitalized in a huge way on a 33-of-38 (86.8%) performance from the charity stripe. Butler committed nine turnovers, only two in the second half, and surrendered 12 points off the nine. Butler scored 21 points off of 16 Xavier turnovers.

Baldwin posted career-highs with 21 points and nine rebounds. All 21 of his points came after the halftime break. He led four Bulldogs in double figures, joined by senior F Andrew Chrabascz (16), junior F Kelan Martin (13), and redshirt senior G Kethan Savage (10). Martin and Savage came off the Butler bench and Savage fouled out with 6:37 remaining.

Butler out-rebounded Xavier, 31-29. The Musketeers were led by 22 from sophomore G Edmond Sumner, who like Baldwin had all of his points after the intermission. Sumner went 12-of-13 from the free throw line. Xavier shot 22-of-45 (48.9%) percent from the field for the game, including 6-of-19 (31.6%) from three.

The Bulldogs return to action Monday, hosting Marquette at noon. The match-up is the first of five games on FS1 as part of the BIG EAST Marathon on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

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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