NEW YORK – In the opening game of the annual Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden, Providence College came out flat with their offense totally out of sync, trailed 10-2 and 17-7 before they settled in and overtook Butler late in the first half. Providence coasted to a 80-57 win and advanced to play Big East regular season champion and reigning Big East tournament and National Champion Villanova at Noon on Thursday.
Providence Friars guard Maliek White led the team in scoring with a career-high 19 while All Big East first team guard Alpha Diallo added 18 in a balanced scoring attack that saw four players in double figures.
Providence (No. 9) was able to rest its starters after establishing a 20-point lead in the second half.
For Butler, Jordan Tucker came off the bench to lead the team with 14 points while guard Aaron Thompson had 12.
Providence out-rebounded Butler 33-25.
The turning point for the game came late in the first half when Providence was trailing 21-20 with 4:34 remaining and went on an 18-6 run to head to the lockers leading 38-27. White made three 3-PT FGs in that span but went 3-6 from downtown on the night.