Wednesday, Dec. 23; 6PM
Hinkle Fieldhouse; Indianapolis, Ind.
TV: CBS Sports Network – Tom McCarthy & Steve Lappas
Radio: 1430AM – @MarkMinner & Nick Gardner (@n_gardner)
TuneIn Radio App, XM 387, SiriusXM Internet 977
@BUTLERMBB | #BUTLERWAY | BUTLERSPORTS.COM
The Bulldogs wrap up play prior to the holidays with a Wednesday night BIG EAST contest against Providence at Hinkle Fieldhouse. It concludes a stretch of four games in eight days for the Bulldogs, and is the first of two meetings between Butler and PC over the next eight days.
Butler is 1-3 on the young season and 0-1 in conference play. Providence is 5-2 and 1-0 after an overtime win over Seton Hall Sunday.
THE SERIES: Providence Leads, 12-4
Streak: Providence, W1
At Hinkle Fieldhouse: PC Leads, 5-2
LaVall Jordan (at BU) vs. PC: 2-5
First Meeting: PC, 65-56; 1/21/14 (at PC)
Last Meeting: PC, 65-61, 2/1/20 (at Hinkle)
Butler and Providence have met 16 times, all since the Bulldogs joined the BIG EAST prior to the 2013-14 season. The teams split two match-ups last season with each winning on the road. Butler used a 44-26 rebounding edge and limited PC to 32-percent shooting in a 70-58 win at Providence Jan. 10. Providence got 22 points from Luwane Pipkins to take a 65-61 win at Hinkle on Feb. 1. Aaron Thompson missed that match-up due to injury.
• Butler concludes a stretch of four games in eight days with Wednesday’s game against Providence.
• Providence is Butler’s opponent for its next two games as the teams will also meet a week later in Rhode Island.
• Butler utilized only eight players vs. Southern Illinois Monday; Aaron Thompson missed his second straight game with a sprained ligament in his right knee. He is questionable for the PC game.
• Freshman Chuck Harris posted career-highs of 22 points and six rebounds vs. SIU Monday.
• Bryce Nze had his first double-double of the season (and 11th of his career) with 14 points and 11 rebounds vs. SIU.
• For Nze, it was his second consecutive double-digit rebound performance and 18th of his career.
• Nze ranks third in the BIG EAST at 8.0 rebounds per game.
• Bryce Golden scored 17 points and matched a career-high with nine rebounds vs. SIU.
• Jair Bolden hit a career-best six three-pointers against Indiana Saturday, posting 20 points.
• Bolden’s average of 3.5 made three-pointers per game leads the BIG EAST and is 14th nationally.
• Butler’s .382 accuracy from three-point range is 51st nationally.
• After shooting 73 percent from the free throw line a season ago, Butler has shot only 63 percent from the free throw line to start the season.
• All 66 of Butler’s points at Villanova were either scored by seniors (41) or freshmen (25)
• Thompson scored a career-high 21 points to lead Butler to a season-opening win over Western Michigan.
• Thompson has 396 career assists, which is already seventh in Butler history.
• Nze earned preseason All-BIG EAST second team recognition by the league’s head coaches
• The Bulldogs finished the 2019-20 season ranked 21st (coaches) and 23rd (AP) in the national polls.
LAST TIME OUT: Butler was able to erase almost all of an 18-point second-half deficit before falling 76-73 at home to Southern Illinois Monday night. The loss ended the nation’s longest streak of home wins against non-conference opponents at 59. The Bulldogs scored 49 points in the second half, keyed by 19 of freshman Chuck Harris’s career-high 22 points. Southern Illinois shot 55 percent from the field and committed only 10 turnovers. Uncharacteristic of Butler’s typically staunch defense, each of the Bulldogs’ last three opponents have shot 50 percent or better from the field.
YOUTH MOVEMENT: Four true freshmen are among the top eight Bulldogs in terms of minutes played through Butler’s first four games. Chuck Harris, Myles Tate and JaKobe Coles have each scored in double figures so far this season. In a six-point game midway through the second half at No. 7 Villanova Dec. 16, coach LaVall Jordan employed a line-up of his four freshmen alongside John-Michael Mulloy, who played a total of 76 minutes as a freshman last season.
This is only the third season since 2008-09 that three true freshmen have started a game for Butler: 2020-21 (Tate, Harris, Coles); 2011-12 (Roosevelt Jones, Kameron Woods, Jackson Aldridge); and 2008-09 (Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack, Ron Nored).
THE ‘FIRM LAW’ OF BRYCE AND BRYCE: Bryce Nze and Bryce Golden combined to go 12-of-18 from the field against Southern Illinois, one game after going a combined 6-of-24 against Indiana. Nze (14 points and 11 rebounds) posted his first double-double of the season, while Golden narrowly missed the first of his career (17 points and nine rebounds). The 17 points were one shy of his career-high, while he tied his high mark in rebounds (which was originally set at Providence, Jan. 10, 2020).
THE VETERAN: Graduate transfer Jair Bolden is off to a hot start in his Butler career. Bolden’s average of 3.5 three-pointers per game is 14th nationally, while his three-point percentage of 46.7 percent is third in the BIG EAST. Bolden is second on the team at 14.8 points per game.
Bolden’s production from behind the arc has been increasingly important as the Bulldogs only return players who made 21 of the team’s 212 three-pointers in 2019-20.
HITTING THE PAUSE BUTTON: Butler entered a pause of team activities on Nov. 26 in accordance with COVID-19 protocols. That was the day after Butler’s season-opening win over Western Michigan (Nov. 25). The Bulldogs were forced to postpone four games that were on their early-season schedule before returning to action Dec. 16 at No. 7 Villanova. While Butler has had several gaps in its schedule of 10+ days over the years (largely between the conference tournament and NCAA Tournament while a member of the Horizon League), the 21-day in-season break looks to be the longest gap between games in Butler program history.