Butler’s men’s basketball team has lost two straight games and nine of its last 11, but its rivalry with Xavier supersedes anything on paper.

The Musketeers know exactly what kind of battle they’re facing at 9 p.m. Tuesday at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

“Playing Butler, it really doesn’t matter what their record is,” Musketeers point guard Dee Davis said. “It’s tough and they play hard every game. Their offensive sets and their aggression in offensive rebounding is no different from any other game they play. We’ve just got to be prepared for that.”

The Musketeers (16-7, 6-4 Big East) beat Butler in January at Cintas Center and need to win again to maintain their third-place ranking the Big East standings.

Butler (12-11, 2-9) seeks separation from DePaul in the league cellar and has precious few opportunities remaining to find ways to win close games. The Bulldogs have had second-half leads in five of their nine conference losses.

But the biggest subplot of all could be Xavier’s ability to extend the defensive strides it showed in Saturday’s win over Providence. After struggling to get pivotal stops in a three-game skid, the Musketeers allowed the Friars just 21 second-half points.

“We did a much better job against Providence of returning to the team that we need to be. I’d like to think that our veterans are doing a really good job at practice. But that carryover to the game is what’s going to define us,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said Monday. “If we can do that, then we’ll be in every single game that we play down the stretch, and we’re going to be in some tough ones.”

Xavier wants to be the version of itself that held Butler to 26 second-half points in January’s 79-68 victory – and not the one that gave up 42 first-half points.

Davis’ defense played a key role in limiting Butler scoring leader and 6-foot-6 sophomore Kellen Dunham in Game One. Dunham enters this game averaging a conference-fourth 17.4 points. Six-foot-six senior Khyle Marshall adds 15.3.

One of Butler’s biggest developments of late has been freshman Andrew Chrabascz. He cracked the starting lineup in the Bulldogs’ three-game road trip to Seton Hall, Marquette and Georgetown and poured in a team-high 45 points along the way. He’s also shooting 61.9 percent against conference foes at Hinkle.

The forward finished with nine points behind 5-for-5 free-throw shooting in the first Xavier meeting.