Butler vs. Xavier: What you need to know

Kamar Baldwin brings the ball up the court. Baldwin and the Bulldogs travel to Xavier on Jan. 13. Jimmy Lafakis/Collegian file photo. 

JOSH MULLENIX | STAFF REPORTER | jmulleni@butler.edu

In the midst of a three-game road trip, the Butler men’s basketball team heads to Cincinnati to face off against the Xavier Musketeers. Here’s what you need to know before the latest installment of the Butler-Xavier rivalry.

Who: Butler (10-6, 1-2) @ Xavier (10-7, 2-2)

When: Jan. 13, 12:00 pm EST

Where: Cintas Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

How to Watch/Listen: CBS Sports Network, 107.5 FM/1070 FM

Butler might see a zone from the Musketeers.

Xavier got jumped on in its most recent game against Georgetown before coming back to win 81-75. The comeback was due, in large part, to the 2-3 zone the Musketeers threw at the Hoyas that caused major problems and turned into easy buckets for Xavier on the other end. Considering Butler’s 5-for-20 performance from deep against Seton Hall, don’t be surprised if the Musketeers throw a zone at the Butler offense and force the Bulldogs to beat them over the top.

Butler must control the paint.

Not that I expect this to happen, but a Butler 2-3 zone would be an effective defense against a Xavier team that only shoots 32 percent from deep as a team. In addition, the Musketeers average only 14 assists per game. Forcing a team who doesn’t pass it all that well to maneuver around a zone is not the worst idea in the world for Butler. Regardless of what defense the Bulldogs run, they have to stop Xavier’s big men. Zach Hankins and Tyrique Jones combined for 42 points and 20 rebounds against Jessie Govan and the Hoyas’ frontcourt. Those two big men will be a lot to handle for the Bulldogs and that’s without mentioning Naji Marshall, who leads the Musketeers in rebounds.

Kamar Baldwin must be more efficient on the offensive end.

Kamar Baldwin was efficient in his 28-point performance against Creighton. But in three of Baldwin’s last four games, he’s recorded more field goal attempts than points. It took him 26 shots to get 23 points against Seton Hall, 19 shots to get 17 points against Georgetown and 12 shots to get nine points against Florida. It’s helpful that Baldwin has scored 17 points or more in his last three games, but the next step for the junior guard is to raise his level of efficiency on the offensive end.

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