Two top-20 teams entered the Dunkin Donuts Center on Tuesday in desperate need of a win to pad their résumés.
As is custom in basketball, only one could leave with the requisite victory. And unsurprisingly given the previous results of this college basketball season, it came from the home team.
In a back-and-forth game that truly could have gone either way at the end, No. 16 Providence defeated No. 18 Butler 71-68. Typically, in games like this involving multiple second-half lead changes, you can count on one of the star players to come through in a big way late to push his team over the top. This game was no exception.
Star point guard Kris Dunn only finished with nine points and seven assists, but he saved his best for the final two minutes. Right around that two-minute mark, Dunn got into the paint with a crafty little dribble and threw a ridiculous scoop pass across the lane to Ben Bentil, who finished with a massive slam.
Kris Dunn with the SWEET dish, Ben Bentil with the SLAM! #16 @PCFriarsmbb takes the 2 point lead over #18 Butler https://t.co/LECqjEGLNl
— FS1 (@FS1) January 20, 2016
Bentil finished with a game-high 20 points and seven rebounds.
Then, on the ensuing possession, Dunn chucked up a prayer 3-pointer with 1:15 left that clanged hard off of the backboard and fell through the bottom of the net. It gave Providence the 71 points it needed to pick up the win, and gave the Friars a win that not only will help their résumé, but also will help stem the bleeding from the past couple of weeks.
Kris Dunn called BANK! HUGE 3 for @PCFriarsmbb Gus Johnson with the #ONIONS call! #BIGEAST https://t.co/okcc97dzFm
— FS1 (@FS1) January 20, 2016
After starting 14-1, Providence had dropped two of its previous three games. And worse yet, both of the losses came at home to middle-of-the-pack Big East foes in Seton Hall and Marquette. The win over Butler gives the Friars a season sweep over the Bulldogs, and comes at the best possible time given the madness that is their upcoming schedule. Over the next five games, Providence will have to go on the road to face No. 4 Villanova, take on No. 5 Xavier at home, go on the road against Georgetown and DePaul, then have a return game at home against Nova again.
Good luck getting through that unscathed. Just ask Butler
The Bulldogs are now 2-4 in the Big East after being forced to start their season against Providence at home, Xavier and DePaul on the road, Villanova and St. John’s at home, and now this trip to the Dunk. The Bulldogs are still in a nice spot to make the NCAA Tournament and likely have a solid seed after road/neutral wins over Purdue and Cincinnati in the nonconference schedule. However, it’s clear that this team isn’t going to challenge for the Big East crown now, sitting at four games back of Villanova. The Bulldogs could have used this one to continue to build a better résumé. But ultimately this was a game they were not favored to win, and it’s hard to penalize them too much for that.
The main takeaway here is that the Big East is an absolute bear with no nights off. That’s something both of these teams have already learned this season, and learned again Tuesday night.