No. 19 Butler earned a 66-61 win in a slugfest Wednesday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Butler got a spark from its bench, out-scoring their Musketeer counterparts, 23-6.
All nine of Henry Baddley’s nine points came in the first half, while Jordan Tucker put up all of his 10 after the intermission.
“That’s a really good effort and a heck of a team win,” said Butler coach LaVall Jordan. “Xavier has been playing really well and we knew it was going to be a battle. Our guys were ready for that. Jordan Tucker was great defensively and our big guys battled. Henry (Baddley) gave us a spark. Our seniors really stepped up.”
With the win, Butler improves to 19-6 overall and 7-5 in BIG EAST play. Xavier falls to 16-9 (5-7).
Senior Sean McDermott led the Bulldogs with 14 points and six rebounds, while classmate Kamar Baldwin added 11 points and five assists. Baldwin also had two steals, which moved him into a tie for third on Butler’s career list (Alex Barlow, 187).
After taking a 32-23 halftime lead, the Bulldogs opened the second half by scoring 10 of the first 12 points, taking a 42-25 lead with 16:19 to play. That was Butler’s largest lead Butler point guard Aaron Thompson was injured on that play and did not return. Xavier responded with the next 11 points to trim the lead to six (42-36).
Tucker sparked the Bulldogs over the next stretch, as back-to-back three-pointers from the junior increased Butler’s lead to 57-43 with 5:50 remaining. With Xavier pressing full-court over the final six minutes, the visitors were able to trim the lead to six before Baldwin scored five consecutive points to give the Bulldogs some breathing room at 64-55 with 73 seconds to play.
Butler shot 47 percent from the field and was able to earn a draw on the glass against one of the BIG EAST’s best rebounding teams (29-29). Each team had 12 assists against nine turnovers.
Tyrique Jones posted a double-double for Xavier with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Naji Marshall led the Musketeers with 20 points, with 18 coming in the second half.
The Bulldogs return to action Saturday afternoon, hosting Georgetown at 2:30 p.m. The game is sold out. FOX will deliver the game to a national audience.