INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Butler coach Chris Holtmann had the perfect plan to take down No. 1 Villanova on Wednesday night.
Play ugly, which worked beautifully.
Savage scored five of his 13 points during a decisive late run that
helped the 18th-ranked Bulldogs end the nation’s longest winning streak
at 20 games — and perhaps the Wildcats’ five-week run atop the polls —
with a 66-58 victory that sent students streaming onto the court.
“We felt if we could make it ugly on the defensive end, we’d give ourselves a chance,” Holtmann said. “We did.”
the Bulldogs (13-2, 2-1 Big East) also did was add another chapter to a
storied program that captured the hearts of college basketball fans
with back-to-back runs to the national championship game in 2010 and
2011 and broke hearts when two recent former players and the son of an
assistant coach all died in 2016.
By extending their home-court
winning streak to 12, the Bulldogs handed the defending national champs
their first loss since last March. After losing 69-67 to Seton Hall in
the Big East championship game, Villanova won six straight in the NCAA
Tournament to capture its second national title. Then the Wildcats won
their first 14 games this season for the longest winning streak in
The loss left No. 2 Baylor , which beat Iowa State
65-63 on Wednesday night, and No. 5 Gonzaga as the nation’s only
“It stings right now,” Villanova preseason
All-America Josh Hart said after scoring 13 points. “But we’re not going
to be discouraged by it.”
Hart was 3 of 11 from the field and 1 of 5 on 3-pointers.
He wasn’t the only one having a rough night, though.
Jenkins, the championship game hero, had 11 points. Villanova shot a
season-low 37.3 percent from the field and was just 6 of 26 from beyond
the arc. Coach Jay Wright picked up his first technical foul of the
season, and when the score got close late, the Wildcats just couldn’t
come up with big plays.
Butler did — beating the No. 1 team for only second time in school history. They also defeated No. 1 Indiana in 2012.
prevented us from getting those guys involved,” Wright said when asked
about why the Wildcats’ better scorers had so much trouble. “They played
really good team defense. I was impressed.”
So was the rest of the sellout crowd inside Hinkle Fieldhouse, especially with Savage’s perfectly timed plays.
His driving layup with 2:59 left gave Butler a 53-52 lead.
Martin’s jumper on the next possession sent the crowd into a frenzy
that got even louder as Savage jumped in front of Jenkins for a steal
and drove in for another layup, drawing Hart’s fourth foul. Savage
completed the three-point play to make it 58-52 with 1:46 to go, and
Villanova never recovered.
“I came to Butler to be in games like
this,” Savage said. “To come out here and be able to play and have
moments like that is really special, something I’m going to remember for
the rest of my life.”
Villanova: The dream of
an undefeated season is over. But the goal of winning back-to-back
national championships still exists, and there’s little doubt the
Wildcats remain a Final Four favorite.
Butler: The Bulldogs have
had some big wins during the last decade — and this one will go on the
list as one of the most monumental regular-season victories in school
Jalen Brunson had 23 points for Villanova, outscored 25-6 in points off the bench.
Andrew Chrabascz finished with 13 points and seven rebounds for Butler. Martin had 12 points and six rebounds.
BEEN A WHILE
Hinkle Fieldhouse might be one of college basketball’s meccas, but it hasn’t hosted many top-ranked teams.
game marked the first time since Dec. 12, 1953, that the nation’s No. 1
team played on Butler’s campus and only the second time since the
building opened in 1928. Butler lost 76-57 in 1953 to defending national
champion Indiana. Butler is now 4-0 against ranked teams this season,
beating three top-10 teams.
Wright 15 games to get his first technical, midway through the first
half. He could have gotten No. 2 a few moments letter.
Bridges’ mid-range jumper hit nothing but air after a Butler defender
lunged at the shot and officials awarded the ball to the Bulldogs with
8:31 left in the first half, Wright stormed toward midcourt and
continued arguing even after the whistle blew. Players and coaches held
back Wright, and Savage made both free throws to give Butler its first
Villanova: Returns to Philadelphia for a two-game homestand that begins Saturday with Marquette.
Butler: The Bulldogs must put this big win behind them when they visit Georgetown on Saturday.