Xavier Pulls Out Second Consecutive Double-Digit Comeback Victory
Well, the Musketeers are really learning how to put on a show. After the monstrous 17-point comeback against the Georgetown Hoyas, yesterday's game saw the Muskies (11-7, 3-2) welcome the Butler Bulldogs (10-7, 1-3) into the Cintas Center. Once again, Xavier was facing a large deficit late. However, 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists from Paul Scruggs led a late flurry to see Xavier claw out a 70-69 point win in front of a raucous home crowd.
The first half was a grind-it-out, low scoring affair as Butler's stifling defense held the Muskies to an uninspiring 26 points and 5 point deficit at the break. This was highlighted by poor shooting and frustrating, ball-stopping offense. A balanced scoring effort and strong defense of their own kept Xavier within striking distance for the second half.
However, the second half was even less inspiring for the first 15 minutes of gameplay. Butler guard Kamar Baldwin came out with a hot hand and stretched the Bulldog lead to double digits very quickly and frustration built. This frustration resulted in technical fouls on both Tyrique Jones and Head Coach Travis Steele that expanded the lead to 10 with just 4 minutes to play. Steele then rallied his troops and Xavier went on to spark a 16-5 run led by Scruggs strong shooting and timely buckets from Kyle Castlin. Kamar Baldwin couldn't put down the attempted game winner and Xavier held on for a 70-69 thrilling win.
-Once again, poor 3-point shooting plagued the Musketeers as they shot 25% from the field with that number being inflated during the 16-5 run. This is an issue that still bears needed attention.
-Xavier dominated the boards with a 40-29 rebounding advantage including 17 offensive rebounds. This is a newfound strength in these past wins that can translate well throughout an attainable Big East Conference.
-Paul Scruggs is the best player on the team. If there was any doubt before, there is none now. He flirted with a triple-double in a game where guard depth was depleted and rallied the team late to another win. His contributions cannot go overstated and he seems to be at the steering wheel for where this team can be taken.
-Xavier travels to Philadelphia to play the surging, #22 Villanova Wildcats on Friday at 8:30PM. This will be an excellent barometer to see how this team can continue to play in a game where a double digit deficit won't be so friendly on the road.