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Butler out to bounce back, cool off streaking Providence

Bryce Hopkins, Providence basketball

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Credit: Eric Rueb / The Providence Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s likely going to take a lot more than a Christmas break to slow down Providence.

The Friars have rattled off five straight wins and will find out if their momentum stuck around through the holiday hiatus when they travel to Indianapolis for a meeting with Butler on Thursday night.

Providence (10-3, 2-0 Big East) made sure to keep itself off the naughty list, heading into Christmas on the heels of a thrilling 103-98 double-overtime victory against then-No. 24 Marquette on Dec. 20.

Bryce Hopkins led the Friars with 29 points and 23 rebounds, both career highs. Devin Carter and Ed Croswell added 20 points apiece and Jared Bynum supplied 16 points and eight rebounds.

Although the team will be back in action, classes still will be on hold for nearly three more weeks, meaning basketball becomes the sole focus — something that the team is relishing.

“It does give you more of a time to focus,” Providence guard Alyn Breed said. “It gives you more time to dial in and just focus on ball, so that’s a huge help for us, too.”

Unlike the Friars, the Bulldogs (8-5, 0-2) had to dwell on a loss during their time off after falling 78-56 to Creighton last Thursday. Butler has lost back-to-back games following a four-game winning streak.

“We lost our intensity, we lost our activity defensively, it was not there,” Butler head coach Thad Matta said. “Guys weren’t rotating the way they needed to rotate. We weren’t as intense defensively as we needed to be.”

Chuck Harris notched 14 points in the loss but was the only Bulldogs player to score in double figures. Butler is hoping its recent woes can be fixed on its home floor, where it is 6-1 this season.

Thursday marks the 22nd all-time meeting between Providence and Butler. The Friars hold a 16-5 edge in the series and have won the last four matchups.

–Field Level Media