Muskies Hang on at Butler in Second Straight OT Win
The No. 5 Xavier Musketeers picked up a big time win on the road against Butler on Tuesday night, knocking off the Bulldogs 98-93 in OT before a sold-out crowd of 9,100 fans at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse. Trevon Bluiett, XU's senior All-American candidate and Indianapolis native, and freshman Naji Marshall came up large down the stretch, scoring 12 of X's 14 points in overtime to pull out the victory. Bluiett finished the game with 26 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field including 6-of-9 from behind the arc. He also converted 6-of-7 from the stripe. With the win, the Muskies improve to 22-3 overall and 10-2 in the BIG EAST while Butler drops to 17-8 (7-5 BE).
The Musketeers had built a lead as large as 18 points in the first half before Butler battled back to whittle the lead to 10 points at half. In the second half, Butler would take the lead from the Muskies, leading 52-50 six minutes into the second half and maintained the lead until under nine minutes to play in game thanks to an offensive barrage by the BIG EAST leading scorer, Kelan Martin. Martin would lead all scorers in the game with 34 points.
Xavier retook the lead 69-68 with under six minutes to play. Xavier extended its lead to seven, 82-75, with one minute left and it looked like the Muskies were in the driver's seat for the win. However, three Butler threes in the final minute -- including a game tying triple by Butler sophomore guard, Kamar Baldwin -- knotted the score at 84 and sent the game to overtime.
Marshall, who finished with 15 points, opened overtime with a three-pointer from the left side behind the arc to take the lead 91-88, and Xavier never looked back. Bluiett hit a dagger, deep trey that sealed the road victory and Xavier's sixth win on the road this season. The game marked the second straight OT game for XU following an overtime win on Saturday against Georgetown at Cintas Center.
The difference in the game for the Muskies was Xavier's powerful inside presence. Despite playing without sophomore center Tyrique Jones due to a left shoulder injury suffered in practice this week, X was more than well represented on the interior with seniors Sean O'Mara and Karem Kanter. Kanter finished with 22 points on 10-of-11 shooting while O'Mara finished with 14 points (5-of-5 FG, 4-of-5 FT). Xavier also represented well on the boards, outrebounding Butler by a margin of 30-24.
Next up for Xavier is another road contest in the BIG EAST as the Musketeers travel to Omaha, Nebraska to take on Creighton on Saturday, February 10. Tip time is set for 2:30 p.m.