Providence College Friars (23-9) 74
Butler Bulldogs (21-10) 60
They say it's hard to beat a team three times in one season...but what if it wasn't? After a very shaky end to the first half that saw Butler close out the first frame on a 10-0 and cut the Friars lead to 2, the Bulldogs came out and quickly took the lead at the start of the second half. Fortunately for Providence College, they have Ben Bentil.
Bentil took the game over and was unstoppable, carrying the Friars to a win over the Butler Bulldogs in the second round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden and setting up a semi-final showdown with Villanova on Friday.
- Ben Bentil is unbelievable.
- There was not a single player on Butler who could guard him.
- Bentil finished with a game-high 38 points on 16-24 shooting, including 5-9 from three. With Butler playing zone, Coach Cooley had Bentil running the baseline and his teammates were finding him for open corner threes. I'm not sure if there's another big guy in the country who can run the baseline against a zone like Bentil can and make you pay from deep. His shot looks so smooth and true when he releases it from deep. I have all the confidence in the world that it's going in every single time he lets it fly.
- Bentil feasted down low with an array of baby hooks and drives, finishing 11-15 on 2 points shots for the game. Ben took in 8 rebounds and played some really good defense down low against the Bulldogs. Bentil was contesting without fouling throughout the whole game. I'm also a sucker for big guys who run the floor. You have to reward them when they get out and gallop.
- Bentil tied Jamine "Greedy" Peterson for the Providence College record for points in a Big East Tournament game with 38. Donyell Marshall still holds the All-Time Big East record with 42 points scored in a game.
- Kris Dunn may have had more of the highlight plays, but Bentil was the player of the game by a mile. You can see why Dunn said that he thought Bentil was the Big East Player of the Year this year.
- Things got fun down the stretch as the Friars and the highlights got going.
- Even better than Kris Dunn's dunk was his celebration with his own bench in the aftermath.
- Now, which dunk do you think was better. That one...or this one?
- Dunn played Robin to Ben Bentil's Batman today, but looked as comfortable and aggressive as I've seen him all season. He had a couple of random turnovers where he just lost the handle without even any pressure on him, but I don't expect those to happen frequently going forward.
- Dunn was an efficient 6-8 for 15 points and 7 assists. He also only had two fouls in the game which is a welcome sight so he could continue attacking at will in turn.
- You can tell that Bentil and Dunn not only love playing together, but absolutely genuinely love each other off the court as well. The whole team has that type of feel this year. That kind of chemistry can definitely have a carryover effect to a team's play on the court.
- Jalen Lindsey continues to look confident in his shot and has his hands up and ready to shoot at all times. Lindsey went 2-5 from deep and finished with 8 points and 7 rebounds. He was making hustle plays all game and kept a lot of plays alive down the stretch that stalled any sort of potential Butler comeback attempt. Keep up that motor Jalen!
- Over his last 4 games, Lindsey is 10-24 from three, good for 41.7%, and that includes an 0-5 three point effort included in those numbers. He looks like he's putting everything together just in time for a potential run.
- Even though Kyron Cartwright's shot was a little off (he went 1-7), I thought he played a very good all-around game. Whenever Cartwright's shots aren't falling, he continues to have an uptick in assists and is finding other ways to contribute to replace the lack in scoring. Plus, all of his shots were good shots that I'm totally comfortable with him taking.
- Cartwright finished with 6 assists, including this laser to Rodney Bullock under the hoop.
- Rodney Bullock had a solid game once he got over his butterfinger problems in the first half. He rebounded the ball particularly well in the second half, snagging 9 rebounds and chipping in 8 points.
- Ryan Fazekas (5 mins) and Junior Lomomba (20 mins) didn't play all that much today with how well the guys on the court were clicking together.
- Quadree Smith is low key one of the best bench guys in the country.
- Roosevelt Jones was non-existent in this game, shooting a paltry 1-9 from the floor for just 5 points.
- Kellen Dunham played extremely well in the first half, single-handedly keeping the Bulldogs within striking distance of the Friars. He finished with a team-high 17 points but wasn't much of a factor in the second half.
- Kelan Martin had a rough first half shooting just 1-6 but came out and played a little better in the second half but still only shot 3-9 in the second frame. He finished 4-15 for 15 points and recorded 10 rebounds for a double-double. I can't wait to see what this guy does next year with the keys to the car. He'll definitely be on my pre-season 1st Team All-Big East next year.
- Molly McGrath was looking fiiiine on the sidelines.
The Friars will take on the #1 seeded Regular Season Big East Champion Villanova Wildcats in a rematch of last year's semifinal. If you remember (and Lord knows I do), a great game was spoiled by a shitty foul call on Ben Bentil on a Ryan Arcidiacano. I mean, just look, he clobbered him, right?
The semi-final game is tomorrow at 6:30 on FS1.