After closing the regular season with consecutive losses to two of the bottom four teams in the Big East, Xavier will aim for a turnaround Wednesday as it opens conference tournament play against Butler.
Road setbacks against Georgetown and Marquette hardly fazed Musketeers coach Travis Steele, who said his seventh-seeded Musketeers (13-7, 6-7 Big East) are primed to have a big week at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Despite a shaky start at Marquette on Saturday, Xavier pulled to within a point with 1:06 left before fading down the stretch.
"I told our guys, I will roll with this team every day of the week if we play with that amount of toughness and effort," Steele said. "We will get the results we want in New York City, and that's our whole thought process right now. Listen, it's all water under the bridge. A whole new season's about to start, and our goal is to go to New York City and win the Big East tournament."
The quest begins against 10th-seeded Butler (9-14, 8-12).
"We're gonna attack Butler," Steele said. "We're going there to win that thing; that's all that's on my mind."
The winner of Wednesday's game will advance to face No. 17-ranked Creighton, the tournament's second seed, in a quarterfinal Thursday.
Butler could be shorthanded for the tournament opener, as Bo Hodges (calf injury) and Bryce Nze (ankle) are considered questionable and game-time decisions. The team announced last week that Aaron Thompson would miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.
The Bulldogs lost four of six games to close the regular season and are coming off Saturday's 93-73 loss at Creighton. Chuck Harris paced Butler with a career-best 29 points.
"Creighton was on tonight," Harris said after the game. "They're a shot-making team. We didn't execute from the jump, and they made us pay for it."
The Musketeers swept the regular-season series against Butler, but their fortunes have shifted since the first meeting between the schools on Jan. 30. Fueled by Paul Scruggs' game-high 24 points, Butler earned a 68-55 road victory to improve to 11-2.
Xavier has lost five of its past seven while navigating a lengthy pause due to COVID-19 concerns within the program. One of the team's victories during that span came Feb. 21 as Zach Freemantle had a team-high 17 points in a 63-51 home win against Butler.
--Field Level Media
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