INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Jayden Taylor scored 20 points, Manny Bates added 19 and a goaltending call lon Eric Hunter Jr.’s drive to the basket 2.5 seconds left helped Butler to a 69-67 win over No. 13 Xavier on Friday night.
The Bulldogs (13-13, 5-10 Big East) reached .500 again by winning their second straight two-point game this week, after losing seven of their previous nine — and their first in six tries over a ranked foe this season. The win sent fans streaming onto the court.
Souley Boum’s long heave at the buzzer bounced off the back of the rim for Xavier (19-6, 11-3), which never led in the game. Colby Jones had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Jack Nunge had 14 points and eight rebounds to lead the Musketeers.
The Bulldogs, who have struggled to find a consistent winning combination all season, fed off the energy of sold out Hinkle Fieldhouse. But after putting together perhaps their most complete first half this season, they still needed some help to hold on in a wacky finish.
Nunge, the sixth-year senior, was called for a technical foul with 23.4 seconds left. Taylor made both free throws to give Butler a 66-62 lead, but the Musketeers got a stop on the extra possession and made a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 66-65 with 13.5 seconds to play.
Taylor then made 1 of 2 two free throws before inexplicably fouling Boum near midcourt with 9.1 seconds left. Boum made both free throws to tie the score at 67.
On the ensuing possession, Hunter took advantage of a screen thrown by Bates to steam through the lane, only to have the dunk attempt blocked. The officials called it a goaltend, which withstood a replay review.
Xavier: Coach Sean Miller’s squad entered the game with the sixth-best scoring team in Division I (83.8 points). It was hard to tell Friday. They made just 8 of 26 shots, missed four of six free throws and had 11 turnovers in the first half. Yes, they were better in the second half, but they never led and after the opening minutes couldn’t even tie the score until the final 10 seconds.
Butler: The Bulldogs may have struggled mightily in coach Thad Matta’s return . But they sure seemed to took the cue from the crowd and the adrenaline of this rivalry. It will go down as one of Butler’s best games this season. Now. they must prove they can build off the momentum and finish this season with a flourish.
The loss should send Xavier sliding down the rankings. How far they slip will depend on the remaining results from this weekend.
UP NEXT Xavier: Visits Marquette on Wednesday in a matchup of the Big East’s top teams.
Butler: Heads to Villanova on Tuesday.