CINCINNATI – Things were not going well for Xavier during the last stop of the press, the Musketeers lost 10 points and have trouble making shots. Coach Travis Steele reminded the musketeers that they were capable of an unlikely rally.
Paul Scruggs scored 23 points as he led another strong comeback, and Naji Marshall made a free kick with 3.2 seconds to go, giving the Musketeers a 70-69 win over Butler on Sunday.
Down 10 points 4 minutes from the end, the Musketeers (11-7, 3-2 Big East) made a final push of 16-5 which included Scruggs' fifth pointer, a career high. Scruggs went to the Guards' place with Quentin Goodin injured and collected eight rebounds with six assists in 40 minutes.
"I felt it today," said Scruggs. "My team mates have helped a lot."
The Musketeers overcame a 17-point deficit and beat Georgetown 81-75 at Cintas Center on Wednesday. It was in their minds as they organized another double-digit rally on Sunday.
"I told our guys at the last stop of the TV," Hey, I played in games in Cintas where we fell higher than that, so play as hard as you can and see what's going on "Steele said. "Our guys made big games in the end."
Butler (10-7, 1-3) led 12 points early in the second half and 10 points at the last stop of the media but managed only two baskets and a free throw the rest of the way. With a score of 69-69, Paul Jorgensen missed a 3-point shot, giving Xavier his last chance.
Marshall was the victim of a foul while he remained in the basket with 3.2 seconds, missed the first free kick and managed the second. Kamar Baldwin of Butler lost three points to the buzzer and finished with 18 points.
"When your players play with so much spirit and energy and do not win, it's hard to swallow," said coach LaVall Jordan.
Butler: The Bulldogs have conceded only 66.8 points per game, the second best performance of the Big East, but have failed to contain Xavier, their advance has faded in the final minutes. The Musketeers have passed their last three attempts to withdraw.
Xavier: The musketeers defeated another series of mediocre shots at 3 points. They only earn 32% from outside the bow and went 7 out of 28 on Sunday. Scruggs was 5 out of 8, the rest of the team 2 out of 20. Kyle Castlin made his only pointer to 3 of the match in the last run.
Goodin also missed out on Georgetown with a injured right knee, forcing Scruggs to come back to the point for the whole game. Goodin missed two games earlier this season due to a shoulder injury and illness.
Xavier leads the 41-20 series and has won four in a row and 13 of the last 17. The Musketeers have a 10-3 advantage since both teams joined the Big East. Butler's last win in the series was 88-79 at Cintas Center on February 26, 2017.
Xavier de Tyrique Jones and Sean McDermott of Butler faced technical faults in exchange. Steele also got a technique early in the second period while Butler pulled from behind with 12 points in advance.
DOMINATION OF THE COUNCIL
Xavier had a 40-29 rebound advantage, including 17 offensive rebounds, four by Jones and Zach Hankins.
I KNOW YOU
Scruggs and Joey Brunk of Butler were teammates at Indianapolis Southport High School. Steele graduated from Butler in 2004.
Butler: DePaul plays Wednesday, the second of three straight games on the road for the Bulldogs.
Xavier: plays Villanova on Friday. Villanova has won four straight games and 10 of 11 in the series.