Butler is hoping the return to the friendly confines of the Hinkle Fieldhouse helps build some momentum for the stretch run in the Big East Conference.
The No. 19 Bulldogs (18-6, 6-5) dropped a 76-57 decision at Marquette on Sunday afternoon. The Bulldogs hope to bounce back in their two-game homestand, a stretch that begins against Xavier (16-8, 5-6) on Wednesday in Indianapolis.
Butler coach LaVall Jordan said he saw some positives to build off in Sunday’s defeat.
“I thought we were aggressive, and we just have to be able to finish and play through some of the physicality of the game,” Jordan said. “If you don’t play well in the Big East, you don’t even give yourself a chance at a win. Even if you do play well, it doesn’t guarantee you anything, but that’s the only way to give yourself a chance. We got downhill and got to the rim, but we didn’t play through that contact well enough I guess.”
Kamar Baldwin continues to lead the Bulldogs in scoring by averaging 16.3 points. He also is averaging 4.5 rebounds to go with hitting 34 3-pointers. Bryce Nze is coming off a solid game, scoring 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting at Marquette, while Aaron Thompson had seven assists.
Meanwhile, Xavier is showing signs of building toward a strong finish following an up-and-down performance in the first two-plus months. The Musketeers defeated Providence on Saturday to win their third straight game.
Xavier coach Travis Steele said his team is motivated to lead the program back to the NCAA Tournament.
“I want it for our guys and for all our former players,” Steele said after the 64-58 win over Providence. “We play and we work for those guys. All the former players. All the former coaches that came before us and we want to make this place proud. I know our guys got that burning desire as well to leave it all out there.”
Senior forward Tyrique Jones, who is at the center of the turnaround, sparked the Musketeers with 14 points and 18 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double and 15th total this season. The 6-foot-9, 239-pound Jones leads the Big East in double-doubles and ranks third in the country in offensive rebounds per game.
Jones averaged 13.0 points, 18.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in wins over DePaul and Providence last week to earn Big East Player of the Week honors.
“Tyrique Jones, again, 18 rebounds — what can you say? He’s been phenomenal,” Steele said. “He’s been on an incredible tear here lately. He’s rebounding the ball as well as anybody in the entire country and it really changes our team around the rim defensively and on the glass just with his toughness.”
Freshman KyKy Tandy enters Wednesday’s showdown on his own hot streak. He scored all 10 of his points in the second half in the Providence win. In five conference wins, Tandy has averaged 13.2 points and shot 13-for-23 on 3-pointers.
–Field Level Media