Collective Effort Drives Xavier to Win Over Butler
The Musketeers welcomed the Bulldogs of Butler University to a, yet another, sold out Cintas Center and gifted them an 86-79 loss to take back to Indiana. A balanced team effort saw Trevon Bluiett lead the way with 21 points and JP Macura follow closely behind with 20. Three other double digit scorers paced the Muskies to outlast a 28 point effort from Butler guard Kamar Baldwin and 25 from Kelan Martin.
The first half was played fairly tight. A back and forth bout ensued as Quentin Goodin, Macura, and Bluiett stayed aggressive and attacked Butler's young backcourt. Kelan Martin was practically unguardable though as he would find ways to keep the Bulldogs offense afloat with and-1's and deep threes. However, Macura would continue to torch the Bulldogs D and finished with 15 in the first half while Xavier held on to a 44-36 lead.
The second half was majorly dominated by Xavier. Kaiser Gates and freshmen Naji Marshall and Paul Scruggs would play significant minutes and rack up hustle play after hustle play. By the 10 minute mark of the second half, Xavier would possess a 66-52 lead. However, it was not all smooth sailing for the Musketeers. From the 5 minute mark on, Butler would show a bit of fight and attempt to rally. Baldwin and Martin would be able to cut the lead to 73-66 with 2 and a half left. A free throw bout continued and Xavier would emerge victorious.
This is one of the worst free throw shooting night on the season for the Muskies. Shooting well under their season average, it seemed impossible to get more than one to go in per trip. I wouldn't assume this would hold up as everything tends to go back to averages.
Kerem Kanter would leave the game with a cut over his left eye but this should not amount to any significant missed time.
Paul Scruggs played his best defensive game of the season and looked very engaged today. If Xavier's backup PG can continue this sort of play, the second unit could become even more potent.
All in all, Xavier welcomed a hot team coming off a huge upset and handed them a loss. This type of win is one to put X back on the right track of not playing down to their competition and will lead to future success this Saturday against Providence on the road in Rhode Island.