Coming in to the Crosstown Shootout earlier this week, Xavier knew it had work to do to get themselves off the bubble and back into the group of Big East teams considered likely to make the tournament. After taking care of business at Fifth Third Arena, Xavier came home and took another step toward the NCAA tournament in resounding fashion. The victim was Butler, who was 7-2 since beating the Musketeers in Indy and sitting at 18th in the nation in the latest polls. However, they ran into a Xavier team suddenly bounding with confidence and energy.
This one started auspiciously for Xavier with Myles Davis picking up where he left off in the first half against the Bearcats by burying a corner three. Bucking their recent trend, Xavier swarmed out to a 12-4 lead, with Myles and Remy Abell leading the way early. The next six would belong to the Bulldogs, but a five point mini-burst by Xavier would see them extend the lead back to six at the 6:39 mark. With Kellen Dunham struggling to find his shot against Abell, Butler struggled to keep up with the score-happy Muskies, who put on a 8-0 run in under 2 minutes to push the lead out to 33-22 by half time. Dunham was held without a field goal in the first half, while Myles Davis enjoyed another big day for X, tallying 12 points in the first 20 and filling in well at the point when Dee Davis was benched with foul trouble.
Often after a big win, teams will come out on an emotional high and have bursts of intensity the next game. The difference between teams who win some big games in a season and teams that make a good resume for the post season is the ability to bury an opponent after hitting them with your best shot early. Xavier has been extremely susceptible to second half runs from teams tht should have been out of the game already, especially in conference play. A 12 point lead turned in to a heart-racing finish on Wednesday, so very few of the Cintas faithful were counting their eggs before they hatched up 11 today. However, today, maybe for the first time all year, Xavier came to dominate for 40 minutes.
With Butler knowing an early run would most likely send the lingering reminder of lost opportunities earlier in the year creeping back into Xavier's players' minds, the Davis brothers went to work making sure that would not be an issue. A barrage from three in the first four minutes, kicked off by Dee and answered by Myles with two of his own, sw the Bulldogs suddenly staring down an 19 point deficit at the first media timeout, with Dee Davis having just completed an old fashioned three point play at the expense of Kellen Dunham's fourth foul. From there is was a study in vicious finishing from a team that had lacked a certain killer instinct to this point, with every Butler bucket or rally being answered in kind. After JP Macura had pushed the lead out to 20, James Farr tore down three straight offensive boards and stuck them back, as the Musketeers looked to hit on all cylinders, leading by 21 at the next media timeout.
With Butler desperate for a lifeline, Xavier just kept pouring it on with Trevon Bluiett riding a three and a fast break dunk to a personal 7-0 run, which Alex Barlow snapped with a three, only for JP Macura to answer with 5 in a row of his own, his three stretching Xavier's lead to a staggering 29 point margin at the 5:47 mark. With Butler well and truly dispatched, it was time for the youngsters and walk ons to take it the rest of the way, leading to Butler closing the game on a 14-2 run, the only 4 minute stretch they won all game. X redefined zipping them up today.