by Tim Daniel
Zach Freemantle put Xavier on his back tonight offensively, and lead the Musketeers to victory.
Xavier played very solid for the first 35 minutes of the game, holding a lead as big as 15 points over the Butler Bulldogs, but in the last five minutes, Butler made a run to get back in the game.
Whenever Xavier started to pull away, Butler was able to make a run to get back in the game, but at the end of the day, Xavier's talent and athleticism were able to take over and help the Musketeers pick up their 16th win of the season with a final score of 68-66.
Zach Freemantle was a menace tonight scoring 23 points and drawing multiple three-point play opportunities. Guard Adam Kunkel had a career-high in rebounds snagging seven boards tying for the team lead with forward Jack Nunge.
(photo courtesy of Desmond Fischer of Xavier Newswire)
Butler had a few big scoring performances as well, guard Chuck Harris and forward Jayden Taylor tied for the team lead in scoring with 18 each. Aaron Thompson contributed 12 points of his own to the game before fouling out. Butler had multiple bone-headed technical fouls that put Nate Johnson on the line to extend Xavier's lead.
The most impressive part about Xavier is that they were able to compete despite Paul Scruggs early foul trouble and a miserable shooting night from three-point land. As a team, Xavier was 3/17 from deep coming in at just 17.6%. Xavier also didn't have an additional scorer in double digits besides Freemantle.
Xavier is now 16-5, and 6-4 in Big East play while Butler falls to 11-11 overall, and 4-7 in Big East play.
Up next for Xavier, a Saturday Afternoon home game vs DePaul. The Musketeers squeaked by the Blue Demons in their matchup earlier this season in Chicago, 68-67. Tip-Off will be at 2 PM EST from the Cintas Center. Up next for Butler, a trip home to Hinkle where the Bulldogs will host St. John's. That game tips off at noon EST and will be the start of the Big East double-header on FS1.