Friars Win: (9) Butler 73, (12) Providence 81

This post will serve as the recap and Thoughts from the Road: Church Pew Edition. I attended a wedding during the game and was following the game tracker on my phone, during the mass — sorry I’m not sorry Bridget — and only got a chance to actually watch the game on New Year’s Day. Big thanks to FriarTV for having the recap available at his site.

Final Score
Providence 81
Butler 73

Special shoutout to Jimmy Lafakis (@JJLII30) for these great photos from Thursday’s action:

Leading Scorer Leading Rebounder
Providence Bullock: 25 Bullock: 10
Butler Martin: 20  Martin: 9
  • Before I delve into my thoughts on the game played by each team, I want to sound off a bit on the officiating. Unfortunately it appears Brian O’Connell and this crew picked up where they left off in last year’s Big East Tournament. Some of the fouls called were utterly soft calls. Players like Kris Dunn and Roosevelt Jones should absolutely not have soft fouls called on them. These are star players who have earned star player treatment from officials. [Steps Down from Soapbox]
  • Rodney Bullock was sensational in his first ever Big East game. Bullock was the only player in the game with double-figure points in the first half and his 12 first half points accounted for half of the Friars’ 25 total points through 20 minutes. Bullock also had an excellent day on the glass and was all over the court for loose balls. Bullock’s performance from beyond the arc was unexpected, to say the least. He entered this game 7/26 from 3-point range and proceeded to shoot a staggering 6/9 from deep against Butler. Bullock also played 38 minutes.
  • Kris Dunn started slow again for Providence. Dunn was only 1/4 from the field in the first half and only managed 4 points and 12 minutes as he had to spend some time on the bench with foul trouble. As I said in the opening bullet point, the soft fouls must stop and both fouls whistled against Dunn were softies. The second one was called because of a Tyler Lewis acting job that got the refs attention. But I digress. Dunn’s second half performance of 16 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in 19 minutes of action was what Friar fans have come to expect from Dunn. For the game, he had 20 points on 6/12 shooting, including 2/3 from downtown. He also had 9 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 steals and just 2 turnovers. The only negative was 6/11 from the free throw line.
  • Ben Bentil also started slow in the first half and he too had to sit for a stretch due to foul trouble in the first 20 minutes. Bentil turned it on in the second half with 15 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocked shots in the final 20 minutes of action. He went through a period where he was taking too many jump shots and was just 1/4 from beyond the arc, but Bentil managed to do some dirty work inside to finish the game with 19 points, 5 rebound and 2 blocks in 33 minutes.
  • Drew Edwards continues to be impressive. Edwards was called upon for 12 minutes in the second half and his back-to-back 3-pointers cut the Butler lead to 40-35 and sparked a 10-0 run that was capped off by a Dunn flush to make it 40-39 with 16:14 left in the game. Edwards’ next basket would be a layup and would give Providence their first lead since 10:40 in the first half. Edwards also calmly stepped to the free throw line with 51 seconds left and the Friar lead at 6 and knocked down a pair to extend the lead to 8. That was part of a 9/12 stretch of free throws during the last 3:06 that helped seal the win for Providence. He was inserted into the game for critical, late-game scenarios. Cooley clearly trusts the freshman in big spots. He’s earned that trust so far.
  • Jalen Lindsey was the player that Edwards mostly subbed in for during the second half. He was largely ineffective in 31 minutes of action and went a grisly 1/6 from 3-point range. He also only managed 3 rebounds in that time on the court and was regularly able to get his hands on a ball but wasn’t able to reel it in. I’m not always a big proponent of the plus/minus stat, but Lindsey’s was awful at -13. Ryan Fazekas was out again for Providence and Ed Cooley doesn’t have a timetable for the freshman sharpshooter’s return, but getting Fazekas back in the mix would give Cooley greater flexibility to pull Lindesy from the game when he isn’t having a good shooting night.
  • Junior Lomomba played a tough and gritty game, per usual. He didn’t have a great shooting night at 1/7 from the field, but he grabbed 5 rebounds and played ragged defense for 37 minutes.
  • Kyron Cartwright didn’t play terribly when he was asked to spell Dunn when the All-American was sent to the bench due to foul woes, but he didn’t score in 11 minutes off the bench for the Friars.
  • Tom Planek saw 3 minutes of action because Quadree Smith didn’t dress for this game with a hand injury. The bulky freshman was sitting on the bench next to Fazekas in a matching Providence sweatsuit and had his right hand wrapped in a cast. It’s unclear how long Smith will be out.
  • Kelan Martin is a player. He played 31 minutes off the bench and led Butler with 20 points on 8/17 shooting. He also led the Bulldogs with 9 rebounds. Martin has a bright future in the Big East and has been the 6th man of the year in the conference so far in his sophomore season.
  • Roosevelt Jones is so fun to watch. He got away with an up-and-down that led to a key, at the time, 3-pointer by Jordan Gathers, but he did most of his damage inside the foul line. Jones scored 19 points on 7/13 shooting, grabbed 6 rebounds and dished out 4 assists in 33 minutes before fouling out with 1:01 remaining in the game.
  • Kellen Dunham continued his shooting woes that had plagued him his prior 4 games. Dunham finished the game 3/14 from the field, including 0/5 from beyond the arc. He’s struggling right now, but I have a feeling he’ll eventually break out of it. He’s too good and too proven of a shooter to keep this up for much longer.
  • Providence shooting 12/26 on 3-pointers was a key to pulling out this road win. Bullock certainly was a big factor in that by making half of the 12, but Dunn also nailed 2 clutch triples in the second half.
  • Free throw shooting overall numbers weren’t great for Providence. The Friars were just 19/28, or 68%. They did make 7 more free throws than Butler, but they also made them down the stretch to seal the win.
  • This was a really fun game to watch and if it’s any indication of how this Big East season is going to play out, I’ll be a happy camper anytime I throw on a game between two Big East teams.
  • The Friars return to action on January 2nd against St. John’s at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center at 3:30pm EST. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1 as part of the network’s Big East Tipoff Marathon that will feature all 10 Big East teams over the course of the day.

Re-watch the game here:

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