Butler regains momentum with win over rival Xavier


Butler came into Saturday afternoon’s matchup with Xavier looking to rebound after a tough loss to Providence and beat a rival in the process. They accomplished both of those things, and in convincing fashion, with an 88-76 win in front of a sellout crowd at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Several key factors stood out in the Bulldogs’ win:

Leadership of Andrew Chrabascz and Kameron Woods: Sophomore forward Andrew Chrabascz came into Saturday’s game having scored just 10 points over the past two games. He rebounded in a big way Saturday, scoring a game-high 19 points, including a pair of 3-pointers and going 7-for-9 at the free-throw line.

Chrabascz credited his teammates with getting him open looks. The team had 12 assists, including seven from Roosevelt Jones.

“The teams found me in a lot of open areas, and I had to make it for them,” Chrabascz said. “There was a lot of balance, and we just found each other.”

Kameron Woods also came up big for Butler, despite battling foul trouble throughout the game. Woods grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, four on the offensive end, and score 13 points.

Breakout performance of Tyler Wideman: The freshman came into the game having seen just 23 minutes of Big East play. But he came up big for Butler when the team found itself in foul trouble early on. He was 4-for-4 from the field, tying a career-high of 8 points. He also tied a career high with 9 rebounds in 16 minutes of action.

Butler head coach Chris Holtmann praised Wideman’s play on both ends of the floor.

“He was terrific tonight,” he said. “He was great on both ends. He’s had really good moments this year, this wasn’t his only one.”

Scoring balance: “As Kellen Dunham goes, so does Butler” seemed to have been the mantra for Butler as of late. Dunham did not register a field goal until just under eight minutes to go in the game, and Butler still found ways to score. He finished with 10 points, and all five starters scored in double-figures. Roosevelt Jones scored 16 and Alex Barlow added 15.

Holtmann credited Dunham with his ability to play a key role even though he wasn’t scoring as much as he usually does.

“We need balance to what we’re doing offensively,” he said. “This is a really good league. As good as Kellen is, they can really key on him. I thought he did a great job making the right plays. He got guys a lot of open looks.”

Supporting cast: In addition to Wideman’s effort, Butler got key contributions from other members of its bench down the stretch. Jackson Aldridge gave Barlow a breather in the first half when the starter got into foul trouble. Jackson Davis came off the bench in the first half, and Kelan Martin scored five points off the bench — including a 3-pointer in the second half, his first such basket in seven games.

Defensive effort: Xavier’s Trevon Blueitt came into the game averaging 13.1 points per game. He was held to nine points and fouled out with under a minute to go. Matt Stainbrook scored 21 points, including 17 in the second half, but Butler limited the opportunities of Xavier’s other threats.

Butler also dominated the boards, owning the glass to the tune of 37-26.

Holtmann said his team’s toughness showed in plays throughout the game.

“I think we had some relentless-type plays that you have to have in league play because they tip the scales in a lot of cases,” he said.

Rivalry win: Butler and Xavier have a long history, and Holtmann said he was glad to see the seniors get a home win in the series.

“There are games you feel really good about,” he said. “I feel good about this one because our seniors get to go out with a home win in this particular series.”

Looking ahead: Butler will head east this week. They will travel to No. 19 Seton Hall Tuesday night and Georgetown on Saturday. Tuesday’s tip-off is set for 7 p.m. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.