A little Hinkle Magic as Butler upsets No. 15 Xavier in wild finish
Another game, another wild finish at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Eric Hunter Jr., after tying with No. 15 Xavier, passed with nine seconds left, went shore to shore and attempted a dunk. The ball bounced off the ring, but Javier was called to the goalkeeper. Souley Boum’s three-pointer missed the mark as Butler knocked out Xavier 69-67.
Butler’s victory was the second in a row as the Bulldogs improved to 13-13 overall and 5-10 in the Big East game.
Insider:Jayden Taylor shows maturity, leadership after late game gaffe gives Xavier a chance to win
Doyle: Butler’s frustration with Xavier was overwhelming. The way it happened was even more incredible.
Here are three reasons why Butler upset Xavier.
Manny Bates plays right
Butler is a completely different team when Manny Bates plays well. He is understood to have fully recovered from his knee problems midway through the season, and the transfer of North Carolina State has boosted his game in the last two games. Against Xavier, Bates started the game 6-of-7 with three assists, three rebounds and three blocks in the first half. Three rebounds are unremarkable, but his decisions from the post kept the ball moving and created open eyes for his teammates. The Dawgs sought out Bates early and often in the paint, he rewarded them with effective play.
His defense against center Xavier Jack Nange was excellent. Bates held Nunge to six on 2-of-8 shooting in the first half. Bates regained his explosiveness, allowing him to challenge confidently and without fouls.
Bates finished with 19 points on 9-for-10 field goals.
“It’s kind of our focus that we’re trying to do inside and out because I start early,” Bates said. “The coach (Matta) expects me to play the right game when needed. If I need to score, I can score. If someone is open, everyone knows that I can find an open person.”
More Bates in the second half
Xavier started the second half with a score of 13-5. For this series, Bates scored only two points. Butler used trips to the free-throw line to end the streak, with Bates scoring a string of goals and assisting another to bring Butler’s lead back to 10 with 9:57 left.
Butler played big against Xavier, using lineups with Jalen Thomas and Bates. The line-up was successful in the first half and Thomas held his own against Nunge when he played at center for Bates. However, Butler is at his best when his attack goes through Bates. When he is not being touched, the attack also does not move. When he’s in the game, Butler can dictate the pace, slow down the game, and play inside out.
Jayden Taylor demonstrates killer instinct
When Butler needs a basket, Jayden Taylor is never afraid to take it. Taylor plays with the killer instinct that comes out in critical situations. With Xavier leading 7-0 in the second half, Taylor used his defense – stripping Desmond Claude – to score two points in the other direction. After a Colby Jones basket, Taylor responded with a hard layup due to contact.
Taylor knows how to make cool shots. At times this is good, at times he may be trying to do too much, relying on low percentage rolls. Taylor is at his best when he plays inside himself, but he has the self-awareness to know that hitting the free throw line is a valuable skill when his shot isn’t falling off.
The sophomore has enough confidence to back off a 3-pointer at a crucial moment, missed and hit a hard basket in isolation play, went behind his back twice and scored a contact goal for a 3-point game. Taylor hit two technical free throws and split the pair with 13 seconds left to help the Dogs seal the win.
Taylor scored 20 points, including 9 of 11 from the free throw line.
“I would just say that my teammates and coaches have confidence in me and just the work I’ve done,” Taylor said of how he handles his clutch moments. “I know my teammates know I can play, the coaches know. They insisted on just being a basketball player. When you’re there, just play.”
“(Matta) gives me confidence that I’m just playing, that’s what it really is. I just play basketball.”
Follow IndyStar Butler insider Akim Glaspie on Twitter at @THEAkeemGlaspie.
This article originally appeared on the Indianapolis Star: Butler’s Basketball vs. Xavier: Manny Bates and Jaden Taylor upset