When Providence hosts No. 19 Creighton on Wednesday night, the two teams will be looking to shake off Big East losses.
However, the way those recent defeats transpired could not have been more different.
Creighton (16-6, 7-4 Big East) shot 61.3 percent in the first half and had four players finish with 20-plus points, but Butler hit 62.5 percent from the floor in the second half to down the Bluejays 99-98 on Friday in Omaha, Neb.
“If you look at the stat sheet, in some ways, it’s hard to believe we lost,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “We made double the free throws they did, outrebounded ’em by 10, shot 55 percent on our home floor. If you’d have told me that going in, I would tell you we’re gonna win handily.”
Steven Ashworth and Baylor Scheierman led Creighton with 26 points apiece. Scheierman added a game-high 11 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season.
Trey Alexander scored 22 points for the Bluejays and Ryan Kalkbrenner added 20. Creighton had won all 16 previous games when Alexander scored 20 or more points in his three-year career.
The Bulldogs and Bluejays played the first Big East game since 2011 in which both teams scored at least 95 points in regulation.
On the defensive side, the Bluejays entered the game holding opponents to 30.2 percent success from 3-point range before Butler banged down 13 treys on 22 attempts.
“Offensively, we easily played well enough to win,” McDermott said. “Some nights, it doesn’t bounce your way either.”
As for Providence (14-8, 5-6), coach Kim English did not mince words about his team’s effort on Sunday in a 68-50 loss to Villanova in Philadelphia. The Wildcats had been on a five-game skid.
“It was the most embarrassing performance that I’ve been a part of since I’ve been in basketball,” English said.
The Friars, who scored just 16 first-half points, shot just 15-for-51 (29.4 percent) from the field while logging a season-low scoring total. Outside of Devin Carter (5-for-8 on 3-point attempts) and Ticket Gaines (2-for-8 from beyond the arc), the team shot 0-for-17 from long distance.
George Mason transfer Josh Oduro still managed team-high tallies of 18 points and 12 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. Carter added 17 points, five rebounds and four assists.
However, Providence will be starting over as it awaits a visit from the team that handed it a 69-60 loss on Jan. 6 in Omaha.
“We’re looking for consistency every day, dependability and accountability,” English said. “This team doesn’t deserve the freedom that they have. Right now, it’s a crapshoot from our team from a productivity standpoint.”
Providence has lost consecutive games following a three-game win streak that concluded with a victory over Georgetown and former Friars boss Ed Cooley on Jan. 27.
Carter scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Friars in the prior meeting with Creighton. For Creighton, Kalkbrenner had 22 bounds and 12 boards while Alexander added 21 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Creighton won three of the schools’ past four meetings.
–Field Level Media
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