Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center – Providence, RI
When: 6:30pm EST
- Providence and Butler will meet for the 6th time on Tuesday with the Friars leading the series, 4-1. The Friars defeated the Bulldogs, 81-73, in the Big East opener on December 31st at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
- Butler is 13-4 (2-3) on the season. The Bulldogs are led by Chris Holtmann, who is in his second season at the helm of the Butler program after taking over on an interim basis in October 2014. The interim tag was removed on January 2, 2015. The Bulldogs’ 2 league wins come at DePaul and at home against St. John’s. Their losses came against the Friars, at Xavier and at home against Villanova. The Bulldogs are led in scoring by senior Kellen Dunham, who averages 15.8 points/game. Senior Roosevelt Jones is the leading rebounder, averaging 7.1 rebounds/game.
- Kellen Dunham is 5th in the Big East in scoring (15.8 points/game), has attempted the 6th most shots in the league and made the 5th most 3-pointers. He also has the 2nd best free throw shooting percentage (90.4%). Roosevelt Jones is 2nd in the Big East in steals (1.76/game), 4th in the Big East in assists (4.6/game), 10th in the Big East in rebounding (7.1/game) and he’s made the 10th most field goals in the league. Tyler Wideman is 2nd in the Big East in field goal percentage (65.2%) and 4th in blocks (1.53/game). Butler has two players in the top 10 in 3-point shooting percentage. Jordan Gathers is 2nd (43.9%) and Kelan Martin is 4th (42.2%). Martin has also attempted the 9th most field goals in the league. Tyler Lewis is 9th in the Big East in assists (3.9/game) and has the 5th best free throw shooting percentage (86.0%).
- Kris Dunn leads the Big East in assists (6.7/game) and steals (3.00/game), is second in the league in scoring (17.8 points/game) behind his teammate Ben Bentil (19.2 points/game) and has made and attempted the 4th most field goals. Dunn has also attempted the 3rd most free throws, while making the 7th most. Bentil has attempted the most free throws (116) and made (95) in the league. Bentil is also 5th in rebounding (8.0/game), has made (117) and attempted (250) the most field goals in the Big East and is 7th in free throw percentage (81.9%). Rodney Bullock is also in the top 10 in the league in two categories. Bullock is 8th in rebounding (7.2/game) and tied for 5th in blocks (1.50/game).
- The Friars slipped again in this week’s polls after a 1-1 week that included a road win at Creighton and a home loss to Seton Hall. Providence is 16th in the AP Poll and 17th in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. The Friars are in the AP top 25 for the 8th straight week. That’s the first time Providence has accomplished that since they were in the AP Top 25 the final 8 weeks of the 2003-04 season.
- Opening Line: Providence -2 vs Butler 1/19/16
Data through games of Monday, January 18, 2016
Butler and Providence met back on New Year’s Eve to open Big East play at Hinkle Fieldhouse. That game was a tale of two halves as Butler led, 36-25, at the intermission and Providence outscored the Bulldogs, 56-37, in the second half. Much of Providence’s damage in that second half came from beyond the arc. Providence shot 9/12 from downtown in the second 20 minutes, including Rodney Bullock’s 4/5 3-point shooting performance in the half. The Friars made 12 3-pointers in the Butler game, but they haven’t sniffed a shooting performance like that since. Over their last 3 games, Providence has shot a combined 32% and the Friars went 1-2 in that stretch, including home losses to Marquette and Seton Hall. Butler had a gauntlet to start their league season. The Bulldogs traveled to Xavier the Saturday after facing Providence and stopped in Chicago to defeat DePaul before returning home to lose to Villanova to open Big East play at 1-3. The Bulldogs beat St. John’s at home last time out on an emotional Saturday afternoon at Hinkle Fieldhouse where they held a pregame ceremony to honor recently deceased player Andrew Smith.
The probable starters according to the game notes and prior box scores are:
- Kris Dunn – #3 – Junior
- Junior Lomomba – #32 – Junior
- Jalen Lindsey – #21 – Sophomore
- Rodney Bullock – #5 – Sophomore
- Ben Bentil – #0 – Sophomore
- Tyler Lewis – #1 – Junior
- Roosevelt Jones – #21 – Senior
- Kellen Dunham – #24 – Senior
- Andrew Chrabascz – #45 -Junior
- Tyler Wideman – #4 – Sophomore
Providence needs to get better contributions from Rodney Bullock. It’s really that simple right now. Kris Dunn hasn’t played great, but he’s played well enough that Providence has been in the last 3 games and had chances to win all 3 in the last 5 minutes. Ben Bentil’s numbers look better than his actual production, but Bentil has been at least putting up some numbers. Bullock has been a ghost since his 25 point, 10 rebound performance at Butler on New Year’s Eve. His offensive rating in that game, according to Kenpom.com, was 154. His offensive rating over the last 3 games: 68, 0, 89. Part of my explanation for Bullock’s slowdown has been unfavorable matchups against bigger front lines like Marquette’s and Creighton’s.
Bullock matches up much better with Butler’s big men and he obviously already had success against the Bulldogs. This could be the wake up call Bullock needs to get going again. On the other hand, he could just be hitting a wall after not playing the previous 2 seasons due to suspension and injury. Bullock has played a heavy amount of minutes through his first 18 collegiate games. If he doesn’t perform well against Butler, the wall-hitting theory may start to become part of the narrative for Bullock’s struggles.
One key stat that stands out from Providence’s win over Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse in December is the uptick in 2-point jumpers that Butler took against the Providence defense as compared to the Friars’ season average. Providence has averaged 31.1% of shots against as 2-point jumpers and those have been made at a clip of 37.1%. Butler took 37.1% of their shots as 2-point jumpers and, though they converted at a higher rate of 42.3%, 2-point jumpers are better than a team converting on lots of 3-point jumpers. Butler only took 24.3% of their shots from beyond the arc and converted at a poor rate of 17.6% in that game. That attempt rate is down from the 33.7% that Providence has allowed over the course of the season and the conversion rate was much worse than Providence’s already low 31.4%.
Butler’s offense is different than team’s like Marquette and Seton Hall that like to drive the ball and score inside. Butler doesn’t have the same level of frontline players as those two teams and so they rely on outside shooting more heavily. In short, they are a better matchup for Providence’s preferred man-to-man style of defense.
Prediction: Providence 82 Butler 74
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