Junior forward Jordan Tucker scored a career-high 17 points and added six rebounds, Kamar Baldwin also had 17 to go with seven boards, and No. 6 Butler never trailed in a 70-58 victory over Providence in Big East play on Friday night in Providence, R.I.
Bryce Golden tallied 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting and collected nine boards to lead a balanced effort for the Bulldogs.
With the win, the Bulldogs (15-1, 3-0 Big East) ended a three-game series losing streak to the Friars (10-7, 3-1) — all of which came in a 16-day period last season. The Bulldogs had another strong defensive effort. They entered the game allowing just 54.1 points, with only four of their 16 opponents having reached 60 points.
“We have some tough guys and talked about setting the tone early,” Butler coach LaVall Jordan said. “We talked about staying the course and weathering a couple of storms and grinding it out.”
After limiting Creighton and St. John’s to a combined 8-for-44 on 3-pointers in their two previous games, the Bulldogs’ defense had another strong effort in holding the Friars to 6-for-25 (24 percent) from beyond the arc.
Senior guard Alpha Diallo finished with 21 points and six rebounds and David Duke added 15 points for the Friars.
The Bulldogs built on a strong start with a scoring surge early in the second half.
Butler scored on a hesitation move for a lay-in to pad the lead to 40-29 with 13:44 left in the second half. Tucker canned a deep 3-pointer to up the advantage to 52-39 with just under eight minutes remaining. Baldwin responded with a deep top-of-key 3-pointer to pad the lead to 55-39.
Baldwin, who was selected to the 2019-20 Lute Olson Award Midseason Watch List earlier this week, got the Bulldogs off to a strong start, scoring five points as his team built a 9-0 lead.
The Friars missed their first 13 shots of the game and didn’t score their first points until Maliek White hit a jumper at the 13:26 mark.
The Bulldogs closed the first half with a 7-2 run to take a 30-18 lead. Butler shot 11-for-21 from the field, including 4 of 7 on 3-pointers, and made all four free-throw attempts in the opening 20 minutes.
—Field Level Media