After the high that came with taking down #1 Villanova on Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse, Butler came back down to earth tonight. That’s not to say there was any kind of hangover, but their offensive output from Saturday was simply unsustainable. The Bulldogs (12-4, 2-1) traveled to Cincinnati to take on the Xavier Musketeers (15-1, 3-0). The Dawgs got the lead first at 2-0 but would trail for the rest of the game.
NOT ENOUGH SUPPORT
It was the usual suspects for the Dawgs. Kamar Baldwin led all scorers with 28 points. He also grabbed five rebounds and dished out two assists. Reigning Big East Player of the Week Kelan Martin scored 25 points, to go along with five rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. Outside of those two, Paul Jorgensen was the only other Bulldog in double figures with 10 points. He shot two-of-six from beyond the arc, a marked difference from his 23-point performance against Villanova three days ago. Tyler Wideman only played 13 minutes but was two-of-three from the field with four points and three rebounds when he did see the floor. The three-ball wasn’t falling for the Dawgs, and Butler’s big men, Wideman and Nate Fowler, only combined for six points on the night.
Xavier big man Sean O’Mara came in off the bench and created problems for Butler all night long. O’Mara used his size and length to his advantage putting up 10 points, six boards, four blocked shots, and three assists. Butler tried to counter his size with the equally tall Fowler, but O’Mara found ways to contribute outside of putting the ball in the basket. Combine O’Mara with Karem Kanter and Tyrique Jones, who are six-foot-10 and six-foot-nine respectively, and Butler just couldn’t compete. Kanter did not score any points, but grabbed four rebounds and Jones only scored four points but grabbed a game-high nine boards.
MUSKETEERS DON’T GIVE TO BULLDOG CHARITY
This Butler team was shooting nearly 75% from the free throw line coming into the game and Xavier did not give them many opportunities to improve that mark. The Dawgs went to the charity stripe just three times through the first 37 minutes of the game. Baldwin was fouled twice in the final two-and-a-half minutes and hit four of his five opportunities. Martin and Aaron Thompson were the only other Bulldogs that got to the line. The defensive discipline that Xavier showed for most of the game was remarkable. They forced bad shots by the Bulldogs and frustrated Butler offensively. In contrast, the Musketeers took 37 foul shots. It’s hard to win a basketball game that way.
The Dawgs return home on Saturday to face the double-double machine Angel Delgado and #21 Seton Hall for Butler’s third consecutive game against a ranked opponent.
This game at Xavier was the most complete game that Butler has played away from home all season long and they will look to build on that momentum as they get into the heart of the Big East schedule.