Xavier outlasted No. 22 Butler in the Big East Quarterfinals on Thursday, beating the Bulldogs, 67-61, in overtime.
“Anytime you can beat Butler, it’s definitely personal for us,” Xavier center Matt Stainbrook said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “We sort of started that rivalry over the past couple years. We’re excited that we were able to get one from them. I think we played a hard game, and we’re ready to play Georgetown.”
Xavier (20-12, 9-9) faces No. 23 Georgetown (21-9, 12-6) in the Big East Semifinals on Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Stainbrook led the way for Xavier against Butler, finishing with 13 points, 10 rebounds, one assist and one block. He was one of five Muskies in double figures; the others were starters Dee Davis (13 points) and Trevon Bluiett (11) and reserves Myles Davis (13) and Jalen Reynolds (12).
Xavier led 30-28 at halftime, and the game was tied 53-53 at the end of regulation before the Muskies took control in the extra session.
“It was a grind-it-out game,” Stainbrook said. “No easy moment from the jump, and I think our team is really energetic. Our players, we’re excited. We have a lot of guys coming off the bench, a lot of guys who started who (played well). Jalen Reynolds, the guy’s going to be a phenomenal player.
The Muskies overcame a game-high 22 points from Butler senior Alex Barlow, who hit five three-pointers. Ultimately, though, Xavier was a much deeper team, outscoring the Bulldogs 25-0 in bench points.
“We knew they weren’t a very deep team, but we were very surprised that there wasn’t a ton of subs coming in and they weren’t really scoring off the bench,” Stainbrook said. “But that sort of played into our game plan. We knew to put fouls on their big guys. We knew they didn’t have the size or the depth to contend with us. So I think in the second half and overtime, (it helped us).”
Kameron Woods and Kellen Dunham both fouled out for Butler (22-10, 12-6).
“They had to go to their bench that wasn’t as experienced,” Stainbrook said. “We’re really excited for Georgetown. I think we’re making some noise.”
Xavier had several close losses this season, including three in overtime, but seems to be hitting its stride in the tournament.
“I think that’s what you want to do,” Stainbrook said. “You want to peak in March. You want to be playing your best basketball when it comes to March, and I think we’re ready.”
Stainbrook, a 6-10 senior from Bay Village, Ohio, has relished the opportunity to play at Madison Square Garden.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” he said. “We’re playing in the mecca of basketball (where) tons of greats have played. It’s a way for me to go out. Senior year, I wouldn’t want it any other way: contending for a Big East title at MSG.”
The Muskies enter Friday’s game against Georgetown as underdogs, despite beating the Hoyas twice in the regular season – by a combined 30 points, no less.
“We know that they’re going to come out fired up,” Stainbrook said. “They’re going to have some fire in their hearts. But we know we have that same energy. We come as underdogs. We were underdogs versus Butler and now we’re underdogs versus Georgetown. I think they’re going to come out really tough, and so are we.”
If victorious, Xavier faces the winner of No. 4 Villanova (30-2, 16-2) versus Providence (22-10, 11-7) in the Big East Championship on Saturday.