Bluiett helps No. 5 Xavier get past Butler 98-93 in OT

INDIANAPOLIS — Trevon Bluiett made his final hometown appearance his best yet.

He scored 26 points, led his team back from the brink and eventually headed home with a win.

The former Indianapolis high school star scored 17 points in the final 14 minutes of regulation and overtime to help No. 5 Xavier rally from two embarrassing collapses and escape with a 98-83 win at Butler on Tuesday night.





"You've got to have confidence," Bluiett said. "If you don't have confidence, then nine times out of 10, you're not going to make that shot. So I kind of take pride in getting that shot. Trying to at least make a play."

Bluiett made more than a play; he made play after play as the Musketeers (22-3, 10-2 Big East) won their seventh straight overall and their third straight in the series, including a win earlier this season.

Without Bluiett, it might not have happened.

After watching his team blow an 18-point lead, suddenly trailing 62-56 with 9:14 to go and playing in the electric environment of a packed Hinkle Fieldhouse, Bluiett took matters into his own hands.

His 3-pointer on Xavier's next possession quickly righted his teammates and spurred a 16-6 run over the next four minutes. Bluiett accounted for half of the points in the sequence as the Musketeers seemingly seized control.

They blew it again in the final minute of regulation as Butler (17-8, 7-5) charged back from an 82-75 lead to tie it at 84 on Kamar Baldwin's 3 with 13 seconds left.

In overtime, Bluiett was back at it — scoring five straight points, the last coming on a 3 with 25 seconds to go for a 95-80 lead.

His entire family and a large group of friends were all there to see the night they will never forget.

"I'm happy for him. He's played here four times. The first three I'm sure he'd like to wipe from his memory as far as individual performances," coach Chris Mack said. "For him to do it as a senior in front of his family, I'm sure he feels great about that."

Bluiett finished 6 of 9 on 3s, had five rebounds and three assists.

He had plenty of help, too. Kerem Kanter finished with 22 points and made the go-ahead layup in overtime to give Xavier the lead for good. Naji Marshall matched his career high with 15 points and Sean O'Mara tied his season high with 14 points.

Butler was led by Kelan Martin with 34 points and Sean McDermott with 17 and wound up making 14 of 31 from beyond the arc.

Yet they still came up short.

BIG PICTURE

Xavier: The Musketeers tore through Butler's improved defense early. They took a 29-11 lead by shooting 75 percent from the field and when that number started reverting more to the norm, Bluiett saved the game.

Butler: The Bulldogs nearly completed a shocking comeback for a second straight home win over a Top 5 team. Instead, they gave up 84 points in regulation and another 14 in overtime. While the defense has made dramatic improvement over the previous five games, Jordan said it needs to get better before postseason play begins.

KEY STATS

Xavier: Shot 66.7 percent from the field in the first half and finished at 59.3 percent. ... The Musketeers made 10 of 21 3s after going 5 of 8 in the first 20 minutes. ... Xavier had a 33-24 scoring advantage in bench points. ... Kanter made 10 of his 15 shots while Bluiett was 7 of 15.

Butler: Had a four-game winning streak end. ... The Bulldogs had held five straight opponents to fewer than 73 points. ... Baldwin finished with 16 points and four assists. ... Nate Fowler, who attended high school in Cincinnati, had 10 points before fouling out in overtime.

UP NEXT

Xavier: Visits Creighton on Saturday.

Butler: Goes for a season sweep Saturday at No. 1 Villanova.

MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE

Dartis scores career-high 38 as Ohio thumps Akron 99-75


ATHENS — Jordan Dartis scored 26 of his career-high 38 points in the first half as Ohio sprinted to an early lead and coasted to a 99-75 win over Akron to halt a 4-game skid in Mid-American Conference action on Tuesday night.

Dartis also hit a career-best 10 of 15 from long range, making 13 of 20 from the field. Gavin Block added 14 points and Teyvion Kirk scored 13 with seven rebounds, three assists and two steals for Ohio (10-13, 3-8). Doug Taylor had five blocks.

The Bobcats closed out the first half on a 20-6 run to go into intermission with a 56-34 advantage. Ohio, which dropped a 101-98 double overtime game to Central Michigan on Saturday, pushed the advantage to 82-56 midway through the second period.

Daniel Utomi led Akron (10-13, 3-8), which has lost four straight, with 21 points, hitting 4 of 6 from distance. Malcolm Duvivier added 15 points and Eric Parrish scored 13.

Late rally lifts Western Michigan over Miami (Ohio) 68-64

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Reggie Jones finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists and Josh Davis hit a go-ahead 3-pointer late to lift Western Michigan to a 68-64 victory over Miami (Ohio) on Tuesday night.

Davis, who scored 17, connected from long distance with 2:16 left to give the Broncos (14-10, 6-5 Mid-American Conference) a 65-64 lead. Jones hit 1 of 2 free throws with 11 seconds remaining and Thomas Wilder, who added 12 points, sank two more for the victory. The RedHawks (13-11, 6-5) missed their final four shots, all from 3-point range.

Nike Sibande scored 13 to pace Miami, while Dalonte Brown added 12 points and eight rebounds.

The RedHawks led 38-36 at halftime and stretched their advantage to 53-46 on a Jalen Adaway dunk midway through the second half. Miami led 61-54 with 5:23 remaining, but hit just three free throws from there.

Western Michigan swept the season series and beat the RedHawks for the fourth straight time.

Toledo escapes upset bid by Northern Illinois 82-77

TOLEDO — Jaelan Sanford tossed in 22 points, Tre'Shaun Fletcher scored 20 and Marreon Jackson came up big down the stretch to help Toledo hold off upset-minded Northern Illinois 82-77 on Tuesday night.

Jackson buried a 3-pointer with 54 seconds remaining to give Toledo (17-7, 9-2 Mid-American Conference) a 78-75 lead and he added two free throws with 28 seconds left to push the lead to five. Eugene German's layup pulled the Huskies (10-14, 3-8) within 80-77 and they had a shot to tie after Sanford missed a pair of foul shots. But German missed from distance and Jackson, who scored 13, added two free throws to seal it.

German finished with a career-high 30 points and added eight rebounds and four assists. Levi Bradley scored 24 for Northern Illinois, which lost its fourth straight game and fell to 1-10 on the road.

Toledo, the top shooting 3-point team in the MAC, sank 11 of 27 (41 percent) and held the Huskies to 4-of-17 shooting from distance. The Rockets won for the ninth time in 10 games.

Persons drains last-second 3, Ball State beats Bowling Green

MUNCIE, Ind. — Tayler Persons drained a 3-pointer with one second left to give Ball State a 59-56 victory over Bowling Green on Tuesday night.

Persons, who had just two points in the first half, stepped behind a Trey Moses screen and ripped the net for the winner. It is the fifth time this season that Persons has hit either the tying or winning shot for the Cardinals. He finished with 15 points.

Moses had 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists and Tahjai Teague added 11 points with nine rebounds for Ball State (15-9, 6-5 Mid-American Conference).

Bowling Green pushed its 33-27 halftime advantage to 45-37 at the 11:30 mark.

Ball State took its first lead in the second half when Sean Sellers nailed a trey with 3:59 remaining. Moses made two free throws to lead 56-53 with 2:28 left. Bowling Green's Justin Turner drilled a 3-pointer to make it 56-56 with 2:14 left.

Antwon Lillard and Dylan Frye had 15 and 14 points respectively for Bowling Green (14-10, 5-6).

Jackson, Minnie help Eastern Michigan beat Kent State 71-67

KENT — Paul Jackson had 17 points and eight assists, Elijah Minnie added 15 points, three blocks and three steals and Eastern Michigan beat Kent State 71-67 on Tuesday night.

Eastern Michigan (14-10, 5-6 Mid-American Conference) won in Kent for the first time since beating the Golden Flashes 79-73 on Feb. 7, 1998.

Jordan Nobles hit a 3-pointer before Jackson scored the last four points in a 7-0 spurt that gave the Eagles a 65-57 lead with 65 seconds to play. Adonis De La Rosa and Jalen Avery made back-to-back layups and, after a dunk by James Thompson IV, Jaylin Walker hit a deep 3 to pull Kent State within three points with 21 seconds left. Minnie answered with a dunk before Walker made a 3 from well beyond NBA-range to make it 69-67 with 11.7 seconds remaining, but Jackson sealed it with two free throws.

Walker led Kent State (12-12, 6-5) with 24 points, including six 3-pointers. Danny Pippen added 13 points and 10 rebounds.