On a day where the Creighton Bluejays and Xavier Musketeers upset the Villanova Wildcats and Seton Hall Pirates as road underdogs, the Providence Friars went into Hinkle Fieldhouse hoping to join the party. With a tough defensive effort and timely shooting, Providence pulled the third Big East upset of the day, defeating the Butler Bulldogs 65-61.
Providence made things very difficult offensively for the Bulldogs, who once again were without point guard Aaron Thompson. Jordan Tucker made a three-pointer just 1:29 into the game and that was the last triple the Bulldogs would hit; they finished 1-14 from three with sharpshooter Sean McDermott getting just two attempts from long range. Lack of threes combined with 15 turnovers kept Butler from outscoring the Friars despite shooting 54.8% on two-pointers.
The Bulldogs also kept the clamps on Kamar Baldwin. Baldwin was a non-factor in the first half, but in the second half, he started to heat up as he’s done a lot this season. It looked like it might be another game where he takes over late and leads the Bulldogs to victory, but the Friars quickly stopped the bleeding and limited him to just three points (all on free throws) in the last 8:55.
Luwane Pipkins was the offensive star for Providence, somewhat surprisingly. Averaging just 8.7 points per game coming into this one, Pipkins went for a season-high 22, helped in large part by a lot of free throw opportunities. Pipkins was 10-10 from the stripe where he is now 47-48 on the season. He also knocked down four three-pointers and was the only player on either team to make more than one.
Both teams are now 5-4 in conference play.
Butler: Caught Watching
Any coach in the country would love to have a player like Kamar Baldwin, but having an offensive superstar can come with some challenges. The way Baldwin has dominated in the second half at times this year weighs heavily in the mind of his team and at several points in this one it felt like the rest of the Bulldogs were standing around waiting for Baldwin to make a play. Butler’s offense thrives on movement, passing, cutting; all of this disappeared in the second half against Providence. Credit the Friars’ defense and don’t forget that Butler is without Thompson, but the Bulldogs have to do a better job of executing their offense in crunch time.
Providence showed a real ability to defend. At one point the FS1 broadcast cut to Ed Cooley explaining to his team that Baldwin was the only attacker for the Bulldogs and that if they could keep him out of the paint they would win. From that moment on, Baldwin, who is one of the nation’s best at getting to wherever he wants on the floor, couldn’t get anything going. The Friars managed to suffocate Baldwin while also preventing McDermott and Jordan Tucker from getting free on the arc. This was a really impressive performance by Providence; they can beat anybody if they defend like that.
Butler hosts Villanova on Wednesday, February 5, at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Providence hosts Creighton on Wednesday, February 5, at 7:00 p.m. ET.