Baldwin has career-best 36, Butler rallies over Xavier 72-71

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INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – DECEMBER 21: Kamar Baldwin #3 of the Butler Bulldogs passes the ball against the Purdue Boilermakers during the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on December 21, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

CINCINNATI (AP) — Kamar Baldwin scored a career-high 36 points and hit a 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left Saturday night, rallying Butler to a 72-71 victory over Xavier.

The Bulldogs (22-9, 10-8 Big East) let a nine-point lead slip away before Baldwin rescued them, hitting all the big shots down the stretch. He finished 13 of 25 from the field, including 5 of 7 from beyond the arc.

Xavier (19-12, 8-10) grabbed a 71-69 lead on Naji Marshall’s three-point play with 8.9 seconds left, but Baldwin dribbled down the court and swished his 3 from the right side, allowing Butler to finish the regular season with three straight wins.

Marshall had 21 for Xavier, and Jason Carter added a season-high 17.

Paul Scruggs missed a second straight game for Xavier with an injured hamstring. Scruggs had moved to the point guard spot during conference play, supplanting Quentin Goodin.

Butler suffered a setback when Sean McDermott slipped while dribbling and twisted his left ankle midway through the first half, sending him to the bench. McDermott had his third career double-double Wednesday in a 77-55 win over St. John’s, with a career-high 14 rebounds.

McDermott returned a few minutes later but had a slight limp. He finished with three points and seven rebounds.

Baldwin was the only player on either team who hit shots consistently in the first half, when he scored 11 points. Xavier opened the game by missing its first eight shots and nine of its first 10.

Baldwin hit a 3-pointer and a layup as Butler inched ahead 23-18, the biggest lead by either team in a half that included 10 lead changes. Aaron Thompson had a steal and layup and a pair of free throws as Butler stretched the lead to 49-40 early in the second half.

Marshall hit a floater and scored twice off drives to the basket, and Tyrique Jones made a pair of free throws that put Xavier up 56-55 with 7:30 left, setting up the frantic finish.

BIG PICTURE

Butler had relied on its guards and its defense to win its last two games, holding DePaul and St. John’s to 42 and 55 points, respectively. Xavier put up 71 points, but Baldwin’s career game was enough.

Xavier completed a resurgent second half of the Big East schedule that got the Musketeers into NCAA Tournament consideration. After starting 2-6 in league play, the Musketeers won six of their last nine, finishing with losses to Providence and Butler.

UP NEXT

Butler plays in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament on Thursday.

Xavier plays DePaul on Wednesday night.

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