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No. 6 Xavier beats No. 9 Butler 88-69

Posted at 4:28 PM, Jan 02, 2016

CINCINNATI-- Sixth-ranked Xavier got beyond its first loss with another dominant performance.

Remy Abell scored a career-high 21 points, and the Musketeers beat No. 9 Butler 88-69 on Saturday, sending the Bulldogs to their most lopsided defeat in two seasons.

The Musketeers (13-1, 1-1 Big East) were coming off a 95-64 loss at No. 16 Villanova on Thursday that ended the best start in school history. Xavier led most of the way Saturday, taking control with a 13-1 run in the second half.

"We just wanted to play our type of game," said Trevon Bluiett, who had 13 points. "At Villanova, we got away from that. Our main point today was to get back to the way things were, to get back on track."

Butler (11-3, 0-2) shook up its starting lineup after an 81-73 home loss to No. 12 Providence on Thursday, but the Bulldogs' high-scoring offense couldn't get much done against one of the league's best defenses. It was the fewest points the Bulldogs had scored this season, and the most they have given up.

Roosevelt Jones had 14 points for Butler, which took its most lopsided loss since a 67-48 defeat at Villanova on Feb. 26, 2014.

"They have very few weaknesses right now," Butler coach Chris Holtmann said. "They've got a lot of different weapons and a lot of different guys that can hurt you, and a lot of different ways to hurt you."

James Farr added 13 points and eight rebounds for Xavier, which had five players in double figures and shot 56 percent from the field -- the highest percentage the Bulldogs have allowed.

Abell, who is Xavier's top defender on the perimeter, hadn't scored in double figures in any of his last six games and stuck around after practice on Friday night to work on his shot.

"Obviously hard work pays off," said Abell, who made seven of his eight shots, including all three from beyond the arc. "I knew my offense wasn't going well, but I've always been defense first."

The Musketeers were missing point guard Edmond Sumner, who fell hard during the loss at Villanova and is recovering from a concussion. It's unclear how long he will be sidelined.

"When a man goes down, especially an important player, everybody has to be ready to step up," guard Myles Davis said. "That's what makes us so good. We have so much depth on our team."

Butler was waiting for its leading scorer to regain his touch. Kellen Dunham averages 15 points per game, but hadn't made a 3-pointer in his last four games since Dec. 12, going 0 for 21. In his last five games, he was 10 of 60 from the field.

Dunham wasn't in the starting lineup as the Bulldogs tried something different. Dunham came off the bench with 14:30 left in the first half, missed a layup and then hit his first 3-point attempt to snap his slump. He picked up his second foul midway through the half and went back to the bench.

Dunham finished with 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

Xavier opened with a 23-15 run led by 12 points from Abell, who got open shots with Butler double-teaming inside. Forward Jalen Reynolds' second career 3-pointer pushed it to 29-17.

Dunham got back into the game and hit a long 3 that cut the lead to three, but Bluiett had two fast-break layups and Davis hit a 3 at the buzzer that gave Xavier a 45-35 halftime lead -- the most points Butler has allowed in an opening half this season.

Xavier had four turnovers at the start of the second half that helped Butler cut it to 49-45. Farr had a follow-up dunk and a lay-in during a 13-1 run that put Xavier in control at 68-53. The Musketeers led by as many as 24 points.


Reynolds' 3-pointer was the second in four career attempts from beyond the arc. His coaches and teammates discourage him from shooting outside.

"We on the bench were like, `Please don't shoot this shot,"' Davis said. "Jalen stepped into it. He has good form, really."


Butler: The Bulldogs made a return trip to Cincinnati. They beat the 17th-ranked Bearcats 78-76 on Dec. 2.

Xavier: The Musketeers are 8-0 at home this season and 209-30 all-time at the Cintas Center. ... They have won three of their last four against Butler overall.


Butler: plays at DePaul on Tuesday.

Xavier: plays at St. John's on Wednesday.