The Providence Friars picked up the Big East's second road win of the season tonight, rallying late to defeat the Butler Bulldogs 66-62 at Hinkle Fieldhouse. As always, we'll take a closer look at this matchup in our Crossover Examination, but in the meantime, here are three quick takeaways:
1. LaDontae Henton isn't Providence's only offensive mastermind
Don't get me wrong, Henton still got his tonight with 18 points and seven rebounds with a trio of three's, but Kris Dunn absolutely stole the show for the Friars. Dunn finished with a season-high 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and while Butler's Alex Barlow almost singlehandedly forced all seven of Dunn's turnovers, the sophomore guard dominated the Bulldogs inside and out. He was especially clutch down the stretch, banking in a three to really kick the Friars into gear while still trailing. The Friars finished with an absurd ten blocks on the night, and Dunn even got in on some of the action with two blocks of his own while taking the Butler shooters to task. Usually, it's Henton that jumps off the stat sheet, but Dunn stole that honor tonight.
2. Alex Barlow has a nose for the basketball
I alluded to this earlier, but Butler's Barlow seemed to be poking out every ball he got his hands on, tallying up a ridiculous seven steals. This proved to be pivotal down the stretch for the Bulldogs, as Barlow ripped away a Providence inbounds pass with ten seconds remaining and sunk the layup to cut the lead to one. On the ensuing Providence possession, Dunn hit his first free throw and freshman center Paschal Chukwu grabbed on the offensive board after a miss on the second attempt. Chukwu sank both free throws to put the game away, but without Barlow's effort to claw back into the game, the Bulldogs' chances were much weaker. I wrote before the game about how Barlow's reemergence has been the most pleasant surprise of Big East play for the Bulldogs, and he didn't disappoint tonight.
3. Butler really, really needs an offensive "beta dog"
A "beta dog". A Robin to Kellen Dunham's Batman. A Russell Westbrook to Dunham's, well, you get the point. Dunham has shouldered the offensive load as best as he can, and while he was a little timid for my tastes in the second half of this game, defenses are making his job much more difficult because they don't really have to respect anyone else offensively. Roosevelt Jones has been a fine offensive player in the past, but he's been far too inconsistent this season and posted another 5-18 shooting performance tonight. Barlow has nice touch from three-point range, but he's more of a complimentary piece. The Bulldogs need another consistent offensive weapon to step up in key situations, because there were points near the end of this game (a game in which they led the bulk of) where it felt nearly impossible for the team to score. They shot just 33.9 percent from the field, which is disastrous, and the Friars completely erased the rim with their shot blocking. Someone is going to need to step up beyond Dunham when shots aren't falling, but their lack of consistency let the game slip away tonight.