The Butler Bulldogs got off to an early start, taking a 9-0 lead against the Providence Friars and never really looked back from there–winning on the road at “the Dunk”, 70-58 on Friday night.
Defense once again carried the Bulldogs, as they made the Friars’ lives downright miserable offensively, who shot just 19-60 from FG (31.7%) and 6-25 from 3 PT FG (24.0%).
Starting shooting guard Kamar Baldwin helped lead the Bulldogs with 17 points (5-8 FG, 2-2 3 PT) and also had 7 rebounds and 2 assists.
Baldwin was once again his all-conference self.
However, the biggest surprise for Butler came off the bench, as junior wing Jordan Tucker–essentially their 6th man, was downright electric on the evening.
He’s shot really well this season, but not quite like this.
Tucker tied Baldwin for the team lead with 17 points (7-11 FG, 3-5 3 PT), 6 rebounds, and a steal. He was “a microwave” off the bench, hitting threes, tough layups, and getting “grown man” rebounds that led to either extra points or opportunities for the Bulldogs offensively.
Tucker’s an early frontrunner for the Big East Conference’s 6th Man of the Year Award. He’s been that good coming off the bench so far this season–and it’s not just points, it’s also his defense and rebounding that is much improved.
Butler also received some great blue collar production from their starting frontcourt: power forward Bryze Nze had 10 points (5-8 FG) and 7 rebounds, while center Bryce Golden had 14 points (5-7 FG) and 9 rebounds.
Redshirt senior wing Sean McDermott started out slow in this one, but was once again steady down the stretch, scoring 9 points (2-6 FG, 0-3 3 PT)–including some key free throws late.
Thanks to their dominant defense and hot shooting 25-45 FG (55.6%) and 6-12 3 PT (50%), Butler controlled this game and its tempo from the tip-off until the final buzzer sounded.
While Providence occasionally threatened, Butler always seemed to have at least a comfortable 7 point lead in this game–if not more, and always an answer to any potential Friars’ run.
It honestly felt like Butler’s lead should’ve been much more, but the Bulldogs had an uncharacteristic 17 turnovers which at least kept the Friars within striking distance, and this one still interesting.
It’s worth noting that the Bulldogs also destroyed the Friars on the boards, winning the rebound margin 44 to 26 in total rebounds.
Even though the Bulldogs won this game pretty handedly, this was a tough road win against a Providence Friars team that was previously 3-0 in Big East Conference play and was 3-0 against Butler last season.
The #6 Bulldogs (now 15-1 for the fourth time in program history) will take on Seton Hall (11-4, 3-0 Big East) on Wednesday at Hinkle Fieldhouse, 6:30 PM EST, FS1.
For perspective, Butler is #5 in KenPom rankings, while Seton Hall is #14 and presumably on the cusp of a Top 25 AP ranking (they’re currently #25 in the Coaches Poll).
As is life in the Big East this season, it’s another tough game for the Dawgs, as they look to defend their homecourt against All-Big East guard Myles Powell‘s talented squad.