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No. 18/20 Butler Bulldogs Fall to Xavier In BIG EAST Tournament Quarterfinals

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The #18/20 Butler Bulldogs, the No. 2 seed in the 2017 BIG EAST Tournament, fell to the Xavier Musketeers in the quarterfinals match-up on Thursday, March 9. The Musketeers advance to Friday’s semifinals with a 62-57 win. Butler will now wait until Selection Sunday for its NCAA Tournament schedule.

Butler is now 23-8 on the season. Xavier, the tournament’s No. 7 seed, improves to 21-12.

Junior F Kelan Martin led the Bulldogs with 15 points. Redshirt senior G Kethan Savage, who along with graduate transfer G Avery Woodson missed time throughout the week after suffering an injury in practice, had 13 points.

“You’re going to struggle when you turn the ball over late in the game and allow your opponent to shoot 60 percent in the second half,” said Butler Head Coach Chris Holtmann. “We had a good way about us tonight, but we just couldn’t get it done.”

The Bulldogs overcame an uncharacteristic five turnovers in the first six minutes and went on a 10-1 run to turn a 15-7 deficit into a 17-16 lead midway through the first half. Butler took a 30-26 lead into the half after freshman G Kamar Baldwin hit a shot at the buzzer.

Photo: Butler Athletics/Butler Redshirt Senior Guard Kethan Savage

Xavier had eight turnovers in the first nine minutes of the second half, which allowed Butler to take a 49-42 lead, its largest lead of the game, with 7:55 remaining. Xavier scored the next seven points over the next two minutes to tie the game and then took a 50-49 lead with 4:29 to play. Baldwin would score in the paint as the Bulldogs retook the lead, 51-50. It was Butler’s last lead of the contest.

Butler was able to tie the score at both 56-56 and 57-57, the last tie coming off a Baldwin free throw. After a Xavier timeout, Xavier junior G Trevon Bluiett made a contested mid-range jumper for a 59-57 advantage. Butler missed two shots in the closing sequence as Xavier scored on a free throw and a dunk for the final margin.

Bluiett led Xavier with 23 points. Malcolm Bernard had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Xavier shot 11-of-18 in the second half.

Butler’s season-low 57 points came on 43-percent shooting. The Bulldogs made only 4-of-19 (21%) attempts from behind the arc. Xavier shot 47 percent and had a 31-26 rebounding edge.

The game featured 10 ties and 13 lead changes.

Butler is now 0-4 in the BIG EAST Tournament.

Butler is expected to be selected to its third consecutive NCAA Tournament under BIG EAST Coach of the Year Chris Holtmann. The NCAA will release the 2017 bracket Sunday evening.

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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