Top-25 foes meet in Big East brawl

Providence, RI (SportsNetwork.com) - Hoping to close the regular season out on a three-game win streak, the 24th-ranked Providence Friars will return home to face the 21st-ranked Butler Bulldogs in a Big East Conference showdown at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.

 

Providence has won two consecutive games over Marquette (77-66) and Seton Hall (77-69) to improve to 21-9 overall with an 11-6 mark in league play. The Friars are trying to position themselves for a run in the Big East Tournament, which starts next week.

 

Butler will be trying to bounce back from a home loss to Georgetown, 60-54, on Tuesday, which ended the Bulldogs' two-game win streak. Butler is 10-6 against conference competition, and will also be trying to head into the conference tourney with some momentum.

 

This will be just the fourth all-time meeting between Butler and Providence. The Friars have won the three previous matchups against the Bulldogs, which includes a 66-62 victory in Indianapolis back on Jan. 6 of this season.

 

Butler gained an early lead against Georgetown on Tuesday, but the Hoyas came roaring back to take a six-point lead at halftime, 30-24. The Hoyas would expand their lead to as many as 10 points early in the second period en route to the victory over the Bulldogs, who lost for the first time in three outings after shooting 35.3 percent from the floor. Kameron Woods netted a team-best 15 points with 16 rebounds for a double-double, while Alex Barlow chipped in 13 points for the Bulldogs on their Senior Night. Leading scorer Kellen Dunham came off the bench and netted eight points in the loss.

Dunham enters the weekend and the final game of the regular season netting 16.7 ppg for Butler, which ranks third in the league in scoring. Dunham is connecting on a healthy 44.5 percent of his shots from the field this season, which includes a 42.3 percent mark from 3-point distance. Roosevelt Jones ranks second on the team with 12.8 ppg, adding in a team-best 3.7 apg. Andrew Chrabascz, who returned after missing time with an injury, netted eight points on Tuesday and is averaging 11.0 ppg this season. Woods is second in the conference in rebounding, pulling down 9.6 boards per outing. Butler's offense is netting 69.9 ppg this season, while it's league-leading scoring defense holds opponents to just 60.9 ppg.

Providence fell behind early to Seton Hall on Wednesday after the Pirates made 54.2 percent of their field goal tries in the opening frame. Seton Hall took a 37-29 lead into halftime, but the Friars came storming back in the second period thanks to 66.7 percent shooting from the floor and a 15-of-17 mark from the free-throw line. Ben Bentil tallied a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while LaDontae Henton netted 21 points of his own in the contest. Kris Dunn chipped in with 17 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in 36 minutes of action, as his Friars led by as many as 15 with just over two minutes to play.

 

Henton remains the top scorer in the Big East Conference this season with 20.5 ppg, and the forward hasn't missed a single start. He is shooting 46.4 percent from the field, and also leads the Friars on the glass with 6.2 rpg. His scoring presence is of vital importance, but so is that of Dunn, who is collecting 15.2 ppg this season with a team and conference-best 7.5 apg and 2.8 spg. In 29 contests this season, Dunn is shooting 48.2 percent from the floor. Tyler Harris rounds out a trio of double-digit scorers for the Friars at 10.1 ppg. As a unit, Providence is netting 70.6 ppg and giving up 65.8 ppg to opponents.

 

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