Butler defeated Xavier, 70-69, in overtime Wednesday night in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Bulldogs, seeded tenth, advance to Thursday’s quarterfinals when they will face second-seeded Creighton.
Freshman Chuck Harris led the Bulldogs with 21 points, all of which came after halftime. His two free throws with three seconds remaining provided to be the final margin.
This is the sixth 20-point game of the season for Harris.
Bryce Golden had a career-high 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting. He added a game-high nine rebounds.
Bryce Nze, whose availability was a game time decision due to a sprained ankle suffered Saturday at Creighton, scored 19 points, including a career-best 4-of-4 from three-point range, in 41 minutes before fouling out. Nze scored 13 of Butler’s 26 first-half points.
Harris, Golden, and Nze combined to score 60 of Butler’s 70 points.
Butler overcame a 19-point deficit to take the win. After Butler took an early 9-7 lead, Xavier went on an extended 25-4 run to take a 32-13 lead with 5:57 remaining in the first half.
That comeback is the largest for the Bulldogs since erasing a 20-point deficit at Georgetown Dec. 27, 2017, taking a 91-89 double overtime win.
Five of Butler’s 10 wins this season have included overcoming double-figure deficits.
Xavier shot 59 percent (17-29) in the first half in building a 40-26 halftime advantage.
After shooting only 33 percent (10-30) in the first half, Butler shot 54 percent in the second half and went 3-of-6 from the field in overtime. All three of Butler’s overtime baskets were three-pointers.
Butler committed only seven turnovers over the 45 minutes, the team’s ninth game this season with single-digit turnovers.
Xavier won both regular season meetings over Butler.
Thursday’s quarterfinal with Creighton will be a rematch of a Saturday contest in Omaha. The two teams split the regular season series, each winning at home.
Butler is now 10-14 on the season; Xavier falls to 13-8.