Xavier center Matt Stainbrook (40) is trapped by Butler forwards Andrew Chrabascz, left, and Erik Fromm (4) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Semaj Christon scored 15 points and Isaiah Philmore had 10 Tuesday, leading Xavier past longtime rival Butler 64-50.
It was the second straight win for the Musketeers (17-7, 7-4 Big East) and gave Xavier a season sweep in a series it has dominated recently. The Musketeers have won eight of the last 10 against the Bulldogs.
Butler (12-12, 2-10) was led by Elijah Brown with 14 points and Alex Barlow with 11. It has lost three straight and five of six.
This was no typical matchup between two programs that broke through the ranks of the mid-majors to become perennial basketball powers.
The Bulldogs struggled mightily on offense, shooting just 33 percent from the field, and the Musketeers eventually pulled away.
Xavier scored the final five points of the first half to make it 31-22, then opened the second half on a 17-2 run to make it 48-24.
Butler never got closer than 14 the rest of the night.
Three fans should have appreciated Xavier’s masterful defensive showcase — Paul George, George Hill and David West, who start on the Pacers’ No. 1-ranked defense.
The Musketeers continually hounded Bulldogs scoring leader Kellen Dunham, forcing him to miss his first seven shots and shutting him out for almost 25 minutes. Dunham finished with a season low two points.
He was hardly alone.
After shooting just 8 of 23 in the first half, the Bulldogs opened the second half by going 1 for 10 from the field during a stretch when the game was decided.
Then things got downright ugly.
Xavier scored the first eight points of the second half to make it 39-22. Dunham finally made a midrange jumper with 15:18 to play, and the Bulldogs didn’t score again until Erik Fromm’s dunk with 11:58 left. That basket cut the deficit to 48-26.
By then it was too late.
The Bulldogs managed to close the deficit late, eventually avoiding their worst home loss in more than two decades.
But that was little solace for the Bulldogs, who have lost five home games since Dec. 31 after losing only 26 from 2001 through the end of last season.