Sophomore Jayden Taylor led all scorers with 19 points in the win against St. John’s on Feb. 7. Photo by Lauren Gdowski.
CALEB DENORME | SPORTS REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Butler men’s basketball team will head into a sold-out Hinkle Fieldhouse on Friday night looking to knock off the 13th-ranked team in the nation, the Xavier Musketeers. Xavier comes into this heated matchup off of a 96-71 win over St. John’s on Feb. 4. The Bulldogs are also coming off a win over the Red Storm in more dramatic fashion, winning by two points after St. John’s tying bucket was waived off at the end of regulation, giving Butler a much-needed victory.
Here’s what you need to know before tip-off between the Bulldogs and Musketeers.
Who: Butler vs. Xavier
When: Feb. 10, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse
How to watch/listen: FS1/WXNT 1430AM
Limiting Xavier’s Guards
The key defensively for the Bulldogs will be attempting to hinder the play of graduate student Souley Boum and junior Colby Jones. The tandem of Boum and Jones has been a nightmare for opposing defenses so far this season, with Boum averaging 16.3 points per game and Jones averaging 15 points per game. Butler’s guards will have to make sure they are on top of their defensive game if the Bulldogs want to win this game.
Boum’s specialty is hitting shots from beyond the arc with high efficiency. He ranks fifth in the Big East with a three-point percentage of 41.8%. Don’t be mistaken, Boum isn’t merely a shooter. He is also fourth in the Big East in assists per game and 14th nationally for assist-to-turnover ratio. All indicators point to Boum being the focal point of the Musketeers’ offense on Friday night.
Jones on the other hand is an incredibly efficient scorer to compliment Boum. Over the course of the season, he has shot 51.4% from the field, and 42.1% from three. He also shoots around 70% from the charity stripe, so even if he gets fouled he can hurt opposing teams. If Boum struggles to get out of the gates, look to Jones to possibly take over the backcourt.
The Bulldogs taking care of the basketball and rebounding
If Butler wants to upset Xavier, they have to minimize the number of turnovers they give to the Musketeers. When you give a team like Xavier extra opportunities on the offensive end, they make you pay. The Bulldogs only had 11 turnovers against St. John’s on Tuesday which is the seventh-lowest total in a game this season, coming back from a 19-turnover game game against Marquette.
The other key point for Butler will be rebounding. Xavier has a seven-foot towering forward in Jack Nunge who will look to be a force on the boards, so it’s up to Manny Bates and Jalen Thomas to get gritty in the paint. The Bulldogs have been outrebounded by around five rebounds per game throughout the season, so being on the plus side of rebounds is key for Butler on Friday night. Any possessions that the Dawgs can secure for themselves and not Xavier is a positive.