February 22, 2015 Louisville, KY. (Analyzed Sports)
Rebounding, Defense key Xavier’s Rout
The Xavier Musketeers (18-10, 8-7 Big East) defense, energy level, and rebounding came up big in a 73 – 56 rout over the No. 19 ranked Butler Bulldogs (19-8, 9-5 Big East) Saturday afternoon in the Cintas Center. The Muskies’ held Butler to 35.1% shooting from the field, beat the Bulldogs to 50/50 balls, and had an advantage of 4 rebounds on the defensive glass to pull out the victory in front of a record crowd of 10,492. This was the fourth time this season Xavier has beat a ranked opponent, which is the most in the Musketeers regular season history.
“It started with our rebounding effort, you cant give up second shots to the best offensive rebounding team in the league,” Coach Chris Mack said. ” I thought our switching from man to zone at the end of the first half built up a half time lead and in the second half we came out with a lot of energy. Really got stops whether it was man or zone. The difference was our energy level and keeping them off the glass.”
From the opening tip, Xavier built a 12-4 lead off its energized play, while Butler appeared to be out of sync giving the ball away to the Muskies on unforced turnovers. With Xavier up 8, Coach Chris Mack was called for a technical foul after he threw his hands up at a referee after what he felt was a poor foul call by the ref. The crowd booed while Butler’s Kellen Dunham knocked down two free throws to cut the Muskies lead to four 12 -8 with 10:25 remaining in the first half. The pace got quicker from both teams, and the refs continued to blow the whistle causing the record crowd at the Cintas Center to voice its displeasure over the next couple of minutes in the game.
The crowd would get back into the game after Xavier’s junior guard Remy Abell got fouled on a beautiful Euro step layup that put the Musketeers up 17-13 with 7:13 remaining in the first half. The Muskies would then use a 16 – 9 run to take an eleven point lead of 33-22 into the locker room. Xavier forced 9 first half turnovers, and had 6 block shots while holding the Bulldogs to a season low first half point total of 22 points on 24.1% shooting from the field.
“This is big-time for us,” Davis said. “It was personal for me, feeling that Butler didn’t get Myles Davis when we played them up there. Everybody brought it today. The energy was amazing.”
With the snowy weather on the outside of the Cintas Center, the heated play at the start of the 2nd half by the Musketeers on the inside of the Cintas Center was enough to melt the snow and ice away. Xavier came out of the locker room with energy and were looking to build on the success they had in the first half. Two three’s from Dee Davis, and Myles Davis both assisted by Matt Stainbrook turned the eleven point half-time lead to a 15 point 39-24 2nd half lead. Xavier used beautiful ball movement on offense to help expand their lead to 19 by the 16:00 mark. Defensively they outplayed the Bulldogs by using energy and effort which helped keep the Bulldogs off-balance on offense and off the offensive glass.
“They outplayed us in basically every area,” Butler coach Chris Holtmann said. “Obviously I’ve got to do a better job of getting us prepared for this type of game. They were physical, tough and aggressive, got every loose ball, made every shot they needed to make. “They imposed their will on us defensively and we certainly didn’t have an answer for them inside.”
Xavier Sophomore guard Myles Davis would lead all scorers with 18 points, while also having a career high 4 steals. James Farr had 8 points 11 rebounds in 11 minutes, while Jalen Reynolds poured in 9 points 11 rebounds. Butler’s forward Roosevelt Jones led the Bulldogs with 14 points. Xavier will travel to Madison Square Gardens this Monday to face a St. John’s team that defeated the Musketeers for it’s only home loss this season 78-70 on February 14. Butler will try to rebound from the Xavier loss with a home game against Marquette on February 25th.
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