Preview: Xavier at Butle
Xavier looks to remain in third place in the Big East standings when it begins a road-heavy stretch of the schedule at Butler on Tuesday. The Musketeers snapped a three-game slide with a 59-53 win over Providence on Saturday, getting 13 points apiece from Justin Martin and Matt Stainbrook. The visit to Hinkle Fieldhouse is one of four road games in the next five overall for Xavier, which is 1-3 away from home in conference play.
The Bulldogs are coming off the latest in a series of close losses, dropping a 71-63 decision at Georgetown on Saturday. It marked the eighth time in 11 Big East matchups that Butler has had a game decided by single digits, but it is just 2-6 in those contests and faded a bit against the Hoyas after pulling within three midway through the second half and four in the final two minutes. The Bulldogs also swooned late in their first meeting with Xavier, building a seven-point second-half lead before the Musketeers stormed back for a 79-68 victory.
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ABOUT XAVIER (16-7, 6-4 Big East): The Musketeers finished at a rare disadvantage on the boards in the win over Providence, just the second time in the last 13 games an opponent has gotten the better of them in that department. Stainbrook had nine rebounds and enters leading the Big East with an average of 9.5 boards in league play, just ahead of Butler's Kameron Woods. Guard Semaj Christon chipped in 12 points but has come down to earth a bit after a torrid five-game stretch during which he averaged 24 points on 66.2 percent shooting, a run that began with a 20-point, eight-assist effort versus the Bulldogs.
ABOUT BUTLER (12-11, 2-9): The Bulldogs have been held under 70 points eight straight times and rank near the bottom of the conference in several offensive categories, but the struggles on the other end of the court had coach Brandon Miller upset after the loss to Georgetown, which shot 53 percent in the second half. "It was our defense, we couldn't get a stop," Miller told reporters. Butler allowed Xavier's starting five to produce 71 points on 56.8 percent shooting in the initial encounter last month.
1. Butler leads the Big East in 3-point defense, limiting opponents to a 31.1 percent mark from beyond the arc, while Xavier ranks last at 40.9.
2. Since scoring in double figures in each of his first four Big East games, Musketeers G Dee Davis has averaged only 3.4 points on 29.6 percent shooting in his last five.
3. Xavier leads the all-time series between the former Midwestern Collegiate Conference and Atlantic-10 foes by a 31-17 margin.
PREDICTION: Xavier 68, Butler 64