INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Xavier coach Chris Mack liked what he saw Tuesday night.
His guards locked onto Kellen Dunham and didn’t let him get free. His big men made life challenging inside, too.
Add that to Butler’s poor shooting and it was no wonder, Mack thought one of the ugliest nights inside Hinkle Fieldhouse in recent memory turned into a real beauty - with a 64-50 blowout that wasn’t even that close.
“I thought Dee (Davis) was as locked in as he’s ever been. To hold Kellen Dunham to two points…” Mack said after Xavier’s second straight win. “When you do that it puts a lot of pressure on Butler’s other players.”
Dunham’s teammates weren’t any better.
Xavier heeded the advice of one of its most famous alums, Pacers power forward David West, by taking charge early and refusing to let up.
The result: The Musketeers (17-7, 7-4 Big East) held their longtime rival to a season-low point total, won for the eighth time in 10 games in this series, came within one minute of handing the Bulldogs their worst home loss in 21 seasons and then heard their own students rub it in by chanting “Na-na-na-na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye.”
For Xavier, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Semaj Christon continued his hot streak, finishing with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists. Isaiah Philmore had 10 points and five rebounds. Matt Stainbrook added six points and nine rebounds, and Davis broke out of a shooting slump by making three 3-pointers to score nine points.
But it was Xavier’s staunch defense that was the difference Tuesday. Four times in the first half, Butler went at least two minutes without a basket. So when they opened the second half with only one basket in the first eight minutes, it was all over.
It was also by design.
“I felt like we came out more aware and more ready to stop Dunham and to make sure that when he caught it, we were all right there - not just Dee,” Christon said.
Davis didn’t need much help.
He hounded the Bulldogs’ top scorer all night, making sure he contested every short or forced him into positions where he could rely on other defenders.
Dunham responded by missing his first seven shots and was kept scoreless for nearly 25 minutes. He wound up 1 for 10 from the field, 0 for 5 on 3-pointers and his worst scoring night of the season.