The Bulldogs got a big lift from senior reserve wing Henry Baddley in the first half–who led the team with 9 points (3-3 on 3 point shooting).
It was 32-23 at halftime with Butler squarely in control.
While Xavier would make a few second half runs, Butler was able to successfully fend them off time-after-time–preventing the Musketeers from truly getting over the hump.
It was in part due to the steady play of Butler’s other seniors: wing Sean McDermott–who had 14 points (4-9 FG, 2-6 3 PT), 6 rebounds, an assist, and a block in 37 minutes, as well as All-Big East guard Kamar Baldwin–who finished with 11 points (3-11 FG, 1-4 3 PT), 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks in 34 minutes of action.
Butler’s second half thwarting of various Xavier comeback attempts was also aided by the hot shooting of junior wing Jordan Tucker–who had all 10 of his points (including two three point field goals) in the second half.
Not to mention, Tucker helped defensively on the perimeter as well with Butler forced to go small because of foul trouble to its big men.
Speaking of which, when they weren’t in foul trouble, the Butler frontcourt also held their own, and while in prior matchups, Xavier may have outmuscled the Bulldogs, that clearly wasn’t the case tonight.
These Dawgs weren’t about to get pushed around in the paint.
Butler did have some scares in the second half, as starting point guard Aaron Thompson missed a significant portion of the game after taking an elbow to the neck/head area and did not return–while backup center Derrik Smits looks like he had a knee injury (something that caused him to miss games during the start of the season before eventually making his debut for the Bulldogs)–also not returning.
Per the Indianapolis Star’s David Woods, Thompson had not yet entered the concussion protocol yet according to head coach LaVall Jordan–although the status of both Thompson and Smits right now is unclear.
The #19 Bulldogs (19-6, 7-5 Big East) will take on the Georgetown Hoyas (14-10, 4-7 Big East) next at Hinkle Fieldhouse this Saturday, 2:30 PM EST (FOX).