INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Bryce Cotton scored 28 points — 11 straight in the first half — to lead Providence in an 87-81 win over Butler.
LaDontae Henton added 15 points for Providence (18-10, 8-7), while Josh Fortune, Tyler Harris and Kadeem Batts had 14 apiece.
Kellen Dunham scored 25 points and Khyle Marshall chipped in 22 for the Bulldogs (12-15, 2-13) who have now lost six straight.
Butler trailed 46-33 at halftime but the Bulldogs used a 15-2 run and nine points from Dunham to take a 50-48 lead.
Providence retook the lead for good on a Henton 3-pointer with just under 10 minutes left and the Friars made 12 of 15 free throws in the final 4 minutes to seal it.
The Friars, whose NCAA tournament resume couldn’t afford a loss to the Big East’s second-worst team, put considerable distance between themselves and Butler with a 15-4 run in the first half.