INDIANAPOLIS (AP) This season won’t get easier for No.13 Butler.
It’s a theme coach Chris Holtmann reiterates whenever he has the chance.
On Sunday, Kelan Martin had 15 points and eight rebounds, and Andrew Chrabascz and Avery Woodson each had 11 points to help Butler beat Providence 78-61.
For Butler, the 17-point thumping of the Friars was a solid bounce-back-win, in more ways than one. Last week, the Bulldogs lost their second game of the season,76-73 to St. John’s to open Big East play.
During the flight back to Indianapolis following the loss, the Bulldogs’ charter flight lost cabin pressure mid-flight and was diverted to Pittsburgh, where the team stayed overnight before taking a bus back to Indianapolis. Woodson said the Bulldogs weren’t going to let the scare on the flight home phase them, or interfere with much needed preparation for Butler’s next opponent.
Holtmann and his team talked after the mid-flight-scare. Then, the Bulldogs prepared for Providence.
“(I was) pleased with our ability to perform and respond from the other night,” Holtmann said, referring to the loss and the flight home.
However, win or lose, the outcome of Sunday’s game against Providence had nothing to do with the flight home, Holtmann said. Rather, it had everything to do with how the Bulldogs bounced back after a loss. The message was an important one, considering Butler will play three ranked opponents, including No.1 Villanova, over the next 14 days.
“If we didn’t learn from (losing) the other night, then shame on us. And that needs to continue to be the case,” Holtmann said.
And it appeared to be a lesson well-learned. The Bulldogs didn’t look anything but sharp on Sunday shooting 62 percent from the floor (26 of 42). Kethan Savage added 10 points for Butler (12-2, 1-1) and the Bulldogs’ backups outscored the Friars’ reserves 29-5.
Butler made 10 of its first 12 field goal attempts during the first 10 minutes of the game.
The Bulldogs made 16 of 22 field goal attempts, shooting 72 percent in the first half. Thirteen of the Bulldogs’ 26 field goals were scored off of an assist, and Butler outrebounded Providence 30 to 26.
“Their length and size, that was a major concern for us. But I think we just tried to really move the ball, emphasize ball movement, play in the post and be ready to shoot the ball,” Holtmann said.
Kyron Cartwright scored 26 points and Rodney Bullock added 17 for Providence (10-5, 0-2).
The Friars scored the game’s first basket, leading 2-0 for a total of 39 seconds. Providence wouldn’t lead for the rest of the game, with the biggest advantage 22 points. With less than seven minutes remaining in the game, Providence was able to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to just nine points. But the Bulldogs slammed the door on the Friars, responding to Providence’s late-game-run the same way they responded to a loss at St. John’s and some very tumultuous moments on the flight home: unscathed and focused. The Bulldogs allowed just five more points from Providence over the final five minutes of the game.
“You know you’re not going to give yourself a chance to win when teams are shooting 60 and 70 percent,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “In this league you’ve gotta be able to withstand two and three game losing streaks because it’s going to happen. Unfortunately, we have (a three-game-losing streak) under our belts right now. But the sun will come up tomorrow. We got to dust ourselves off and get ready for Georgetown.”
BIG PICTURE: After a loss at St. John’s to open conference play, the Bulldogs responded with a much needed win over Providence, hopefully setting the tone for their Big East schedule. The Bulldogs will have their hands full during the next 14 days, as three of Butler’s next four games are against ranked opponents (No.1 Villanova, No.10 Creighton, and No.17 Xavier, respectively).
POLL IMPLICATIONS: The Bulldogs started the 2016-17 season by taking advantage of key games on their out-of-conference schedule. With wins over then-No. 22 Cincinnati, No. 8 Arizona and No. 9 Indiana, Butler’s resume has a strong foundation heading into Big East conference play. On Wednesday, the Bulldogs will have their toughest test yet: a chance to knock off No.1 Villanova when the Wildcats visit Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Butler hosts Villanova on Wednesday
Providence hosts Georgetown on Wednesday