No. 22 Butler pulls away late to 88-79 win over Xavier

Butler's Tyler Wideman (4) shoots against Xavier's RaShid Gaston, right, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, in Cincinnati. Butler won 88-79. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

CINCINNATI (AP) — No. 22 Butler came up with a fitting encore on the road.

Kelan Martin had another big game, scoring 25 points, and the Bulldogs followed their biggest road win of the season with yet another on Sunday, pulling away in the closing minutes for an 88-79 victory over Xavier.

The Bulldogs (23-6, 12-5 Big East) were coming off a 74-66 victory at No. 2 Villanova, one of the biggest road wins in their history. They kept the momentum with a strong finish, outscoring Xavier 19-8 down the stretch for their fourth straight win.

“It’s an incredibly significant accomplishment, to come on the road and get two wins against this quality of opponent and to have the season that we’ve had up to this point,” coach Chris Holtmann said. “I don’t want to brush that aside.”

Neither team led by more than six points before Butler’s closing spurt, which featured four steals by the Bulldogs. It was Butler’s first win at the Cintas Center since the 2008-09 season.

“Two huge wins against two great programs,” said Andrew Chrabascz, who had 11 points and six assists. “That helps us out tremendously.”

Xavier (18-11, 8-8) has lost five in a row, its deepest slump in 35 years. The Musketeers dropped six straight in 1981-82 under coach Bob Staak.

The Musketeers’ slide coincides with top scorer Trevon Bluiett suffering a sprained ankle. He was back for the second straight game and led with 21 points.

The game had seven ties and 17 lead changes. Xavier was up 71-69 with 5:43 to go but couldn’t hold onto the ball. Four players had turnovers in the last four minutes, helping the Bulldogs pull away.

“At the end of the game, they ramped up their intensity,” said Xavier’s Sean O’Mara, who scored seven points.

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