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Butler upends Xavier with gritty effort

Dec 24, 2008 - 6:50 AM CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- Butler took a page out of Xavier's playbook to end its struggles against an old conference foe.

Matt Howard and freshman Gordon Hayward each scored 19 points as Butler outmuscled No. 12 Xavier for a 74-65 upset on Tuesday.

Willie Veasley chipped in 12 points for the Bulldogs (10-1), who snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Musketeers, a former Midwestern Collegiate Conference foe. This was their first meeting since November 17, 1998.

Butler played hard-nosed throughout, overcoming 35 percent (20-of-57) shooting by forcing 17 turnovers and holding its own with more athletic Xavier on the boards. Howard grabbed 14 rebounds and Hayward 10 as the Bulldogs trailed just 40-38.

"I'm excited about the way our team played," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "I thought our guys played with pretty much poise. I thought Matt was unbelievable tonight. He played so hard on every possession."

Butler also came up big at the free-throw line, making 26-of-30 attempts in the second half to stave off any charge by Xavier.

The Bulldogs ended up beating a ranked team for the first time since topping four-seeded Maryland in the second round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

Xavier (9-2), which has lost two straight including a lopsided loss to then-No. 6 Duke, 82-64, on Saturday, pulled within 68-65 on a 3-pointer by Derrick Brown with 1:52 remaining.

Ronald Nored converted two free throws for the Bulldogs, and Hayward blocked a dunk attempt by Jamel McLean with 41 seconds left.

The block was one of four in the game for the 6-8 swingman.

"Gordon Hayward, I cannot believe how good of a player he is for a freshman," Xavier coach Sean Miller said. "Couple him with Matt Howard, a relentless warrior."

Hayward also sank two foul shots with 18 ticks to play and, after a missed 3-pointer by Dante Jackson, Shelvin Mack added two more from the stripe in the closing moments for Butler.

Hayward went 10-of-10 from the line and Howard finished 9-of-13 for Butler, which improved to 1-1 against ranked teams this season.

Brown scored 17 points for the Musketeers, who saw a 15-game winning streak at the Cintas Center snapped.

They could not come up with a big shot in the second half, shooting 3-of-14 from the arc after halftime.

C.J. Anderson added 15 points and Jackson nine for Xavier, which was sunk by a subpar performance from the line, missing 10-of-22 attempts.

"We were not surprised," Anderson said. "Maybe, we didn't give as good an effort as we could have. Butler did a really good job defending us inside."

Third-leading scorer B.J. Raymond had just three points, going 1-of-7 from the field and 1-of-5 on 3-pointers for the Musketeers.

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    BUTLER 29 45 74
    XAVIER (12) 26 39 65 FINAL

    Dec 23 9:11 PM

    BUTLER 29

    Dec 23 7:49 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 65 roots (Upset)

    Butler 29, Xavier(12) 26  HalfDec 23 7:49 PM