Second Half Sinks Bulldogs
CINCINNATI, OHIO -- Butler fell victim to a cold shooting second half and a hot opponent and wound up dropping a 79-68 BIG EAST Conference decision at Xavier on Saturday (Jan. 4). The setback, Butler's second straight in conference play, dropped the Bulldogs to 10-4 on the year and 0-2 in the BIG EAST.
Xavier (12-3, 2-0 BE) overcame a five-point halftime deficit with a hot-shooting second half performance. The Musketeers, who won at home for the tenth time this season, nailed 14 of 25 (56%) from the floor and 12 of 15 (80%) from the free thow line, while out-scoring Butler, 42-26, after intermission.
Butler, meanwhile, hit just nine of 29 (31%) shots in the final period. The Bulldogs had built a 42-37 halftime advantage on the strength of 61% (14-23) shooting.
"It was a tale of two halves. I thought we came out in the first half and executed on the offensive end. Other than a few turnovers, we shot the percentage we needed to shoot. I wish we could have been a little better on the defensive end," said Butler head coach Brandon Miller.
"In the second half, on both ends of the floor, we clearly weren't good enough to win a game like tonight."
The Musketeers, riding a six-game winning streak coming into the game, opened the second half with a 13-4 run to gain control of the contest. Butler was able to tie the game five times in the final 14 minutes, but the Bulldogs never regained the lead.
Guard Dee Davis sparked the second-half Xavier comeback. The former high school teammate of Butler's Erik Fromm hit four of five shots, including both of his attempts from beyond the three-point arc, and scored all 12 of his points after intermission. After Fromm gave Butler's its largest lead, 44-37, with a jumper to start the second half, Davis scored five of Xavier's next seven points to tie the game.
The diminutive guard then capped Xavier's period-opening run with a three-point field goal to put the Musketeers on top, 50-46.
The Bulldogs, looking for their first win in the Cintas Center since 2008, stayed within striking distance and trailed by just three, 71-68, with two minutes remaining. But the Musketeers closed the game on an 8-0 run to claim the 11-point win.
Senior Khyle Marshall led the Bulldogs with 14 points, including 11 in the first 20 minutes. The 6-6 forward hit five of his first seven shots in the game, but managed just one of seven in the second half.
Leading scorer Kellen Dunham was limited to just 11 points in the game, while freshman Elijah Brown came off the bench with 10. Freshman Andrew Chrabascz came off the bench with his best Butler performance, finishing with nine points and five rebounds in 17 minutes.
Semaj Christon led the Musketeers with 20 points, including 16 in the first half, while center Matt Stainbrook, a transfer from Central Michigan, finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. Former Lawrence North High School player Justin Martin added 13.
Butler will try to snap its two-game slide and pick up its first BIG EAST win when it hosts DePaul on Thursday, Jan. 9 The first of two straight home games for the Bulldogs is slated to start a 7 p.m. (ET) at Hinkle Fieldhouse.