White scores career-high 19 as Providence beats Butler again

Maliek White who scored a career-high 19 points celebrates during Providence's 80-57 blowout win over Butler in the first round of the Big East Tournament on Wednesday night

Maliek White who scored a career-high 19 points celebrates during Providence's 80-57 blowout win over Butler in the first round of the Big East Tournament on Wednesday night

The third-year starter leads Butler in scoring this season (17.5 points) and has plenty of experience playing under pressure in March, having led Butler to NCAA Tournament appearances the past two seasons.

The eighth-seeded Friars kicked off a wide-open Big East Tournament looking like a team ready to make another deep run at Madison Square Garden, following an impressive 80-57 beatdown of ninth-seeded Butler Wednesday night. The Friars have struggled to win consistently, but have won and covered the spread in three of their last five games.

"It's tough to beat anybody once in a row, let alone three times in a row", Providence coach Ed Cooley said. Villanova has an assist on 40 of 69 field goals (58 percent) across its previous three matchups while Providence has assists on 45 of 84 field goals (53.6 percent) during its past three games.

White was the unexpected surprise.

"Maliek looked like Superman out there today", Cooley said. "I was really happy for Maliek". That was pretty fun to watch on this stage. The Wildcats won both regular-season meetings, including an 85-67 home victory on February 13. The teams last played each other on February 13, when the Wildcats shot 51.9 percent from the field while holding Providence to just 42.1 percent on their way to the 18-point victory.

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David Duke chipped in 16 points for the Friars while Isaiah Jackson added 13.

Akinjo has been a large part of Georgetown's rise this season, scoring 13.3 points per game and he led the entire league with 5.4 assists per game - an honor that had gone to a PC guard in six of the past seven seasons.

"Obviously, a ton of credit to Coach Cooley and Providence", Butler coach LaVall Jordan said. Both teams likely need to win the tournament to earn their way into the 2019 NCAA Tournament, so the intensity level should be high Wednesday. Strong defense on leading scorer Kamar Baldwin (eight points, averaging 17.5) and getting into foul trouble, plus the PC length defending against Butler shooters on the edge was simply too much to overcome.

That's when White and Diallo took over, combining for 19 points as the Friars closed the half with a 31-10 spurt. White, who had 17 points combined in his last four games, scored 13 on the final 15 for a 38-27 lead.

"I think my teammates just gave me confidence", was White's explanation, as he finished the game with a career-best 19 points. "They tell me to keep shooting the ball". I know I started off and missed three open threes. "In that time-out, Coach told us we have to take those open shots, and I kept shooting it, and I was fortunate for it to keep going in". Providence responded with a 15-0 run over the next 5:06, with Diallo contributing seven points to the surge. Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of the Providence vs. Butler spread you should be all over, all from the model that's up over $4,000 on top-rated college basketball picks the past two seasons.

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