BUTLER TRAVELS TO PROVIDENCE FOR SECOND MEETING

(BUTLER SI)

GAME 6:  Butler (2-3, 1-1 BIG EAST) at Providence (6-3, 2-1 BIG EAST)
Wednesday, Dec. 30;  5PM  
Alumni Hall;  Providence, R.I.
TV:  FS1 – @BrandonGaudin & @NickBahe
Radio:  107.5FM, 93.5FM, 1070AM – @MarkMinner & Nick Gardner (@n_gardner)
TuneIn Radio App, XM 389, SiriusXM Internet 979 
 

For Butler, it is a Wednesday match-up with Providence for the second consecutive week. This game is in Rhode Island after the Bulldogs came away with a 70-64 win at Hinkle Fieldhouse a week ago. The Bulldogs took a few days for the holidays in between the two contests, while the Friars posted a double-overtime home win over DePaul Sunday.  

Butler is 2-3 on the young season and 1-1 in conference play. Providence is 6-3 and 2-1 (BIG EAST).

• Providence is Butler’s opponent for the second straight game; the Bulldogs beat the Friars, 70-64, Wednesday at Hinkle.
• Aaron Thompson has missed three straight games with a sprained ligament in his right knee. He is questionable for the PC game.
• Chuck Harris is the current BIG EAST Freshman of the Week. 
• Butler put five players in double figures against the Friars Wednesday. 
• Freshman Myles Tate had eight rebounds and seven assists (both career-highs) against Providence.
• Freshman JaKobe Coles led the Bulldogs with a career-high 14 points vs. PC, his first time leading the team in scoring.
• Butler limited PC to 41-percent shooting, including 4-of-26 from three-point range.
• Butler’s 10 turnovers vs. PC were the second-fewest total of the season.
• Four different Bulldogs have led the team in scoring in Butler’s five games. 
• Freshman Myles Wilmoth is perfect from the field in BIG EAST play (6-of-6). 
• Harris posted career-highs of 22 points and six assists vs. Southern Illinois Dec. 21.
• Bryce Nze had his first double-double of the season (and 11th of his career) with 14 points and 11 rebounds vs. SIU.
• Nze ranks ninth in the BIG EAST at 7.4 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 Dec. 19, posting 20 points. 
• Bolden’s 3.0 made three-pointers per game is third in the BIG EAST.
• All 66 of Butler’s points at Villanova Dec. 16 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 Nov. 25.
• 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 SERIES: Providence Leads, 12-5
Streak: Butler, W1
At Providence: PC Leads, 5-2
LaVall Jordan (at BU) vs. PC: 3-5
First Meeting: PC, 65-56; 1/21/14 (at PC)
Last Meeting: Butler, 70-64, 12/23/20 (at Hinkle)

THE SERIES: Butler and Providence have met 17 times, all since the Bulldogs joined the BIG EAST prior to the 2013-14 season. In addition to the Bulldogs winning a week ago, 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 Jan. 10 in the last meeting between the two teams in Providence. In a similar scheduling quirk, Butler and Providence played three times in a 16-day span near the end of the 2018-19 season. 

ROOKIE ACCOLADES: Chuck Harris has been named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week, as announced by the conference office Dec. 28. Harris averaged 16.0 points per game as the Bulldogs recorded a 1-1 week. He posted a career-best 22 points against Southern Illinois Dec. 21 to highlight his week. In the team’s two games, which included a win over Providence, Harris shot 52 percent from the field and 5-of-7 from three-point range.
 
Harris is the third Bulldog to earn Freshman of the Week honors since the Bulldogs joined the BIG EAST prior to the 2013-14 season. He joins Kelan Martin (final week of the 2014-15 regular season) and Kamar Baldwin (twice during the 2016-17 season) on that list.

For the season, Harris is third among the Bulldogs with an average of 11.4 points per game. Among true freshmen in the BIG EAST, only Marquette’s Dawson Garcia (at 12.7 points per game) is averaging more. 

BALANCED ATTACK: In Wednesday’s win over Providence, the Bulldogs put five players in double figures, led by freshman JaKobe Coles with 14 points. It was only the third time in more than two calendar years that Butler has had five players score 10 or more in the same game (win vs. St. John’s, 3/4/20; loss vs. Providence, 2/1/20). Prior to that, Butler had five in double figures in a Dec. 8, 2018 win over Northern Illinois. 

LAST TIME OUT: Butler went into the holiday break with a win, knocking off Providence, 70-64, Wednesday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Five Bulldogs scored in double figures, but the line of the night belonged to freshman Myles Tate, who led the team with eight rebounds and seven assists (both career-highs) to go along with eight points. Thirty-eight of Butler’s points came in the paint and the Bulldogs had a 37-32 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs shot 46 percent from the field, but connected on only five three-pointers and 13-of-23 at the free throw line. The defensive effort by the Bulldogs won the game, as Providence was limited to 41-percent shooting, including a 4-of-26 performance from behind the arc.

PROTECT THE ROCK: Butler turned the ball over only 10 times in the win over Providence, which is its second-best mark of the young season (six turnovers against Western Michigan Nov. 25). This continues a strong trend from last season. Butler had 14 games last season with 10 or fewer turnovers. Butler’s four guards each have an assist/turnover ratio of better than 1.50, led by Aaron Thompson at 3.33. Jair Bolden has committed only three turnovers this season in 174 minutes of action. 

YOUTH MOVEMENT: The highest-rated recruiting class in Butler history has lived up to the billing so far. Four true freshmen are among the top seven Bulldogs in terms of minutes played through Butler’s first five games. Chuck Harris, Myles Tate and JaKobe Coles have each scored in double figures in multiple games so far this season. Both Harris and Coles have led the team in scoring in a game 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 Dec. 21, 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 3.0 three-pointers per game is third in the BIG EAST, while his three-point percentage of 41.7 percent is 14th in the BIG EAST. Bolden is second on the team at 14.0 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. 

CAREER NIGHT: Butler senior point guard Aaron Thompson had a career-best 21 points, going 6-of-9 from the field and 8-of-11 from the free throw stripe, as the Bulldogs posted a win over Western Michigan in the season opener.