INDIANAPOLIS — Myles Powell and 18th-ranked Seton Hall gave No. 5 Butler a taste of their own medicine on Wednesday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Powell scored a game-high 29 points, including 19 in the second half, and Seton Hall out-scored Butler 13-4 down the stretch to win 78-70.
“It was a high-level basketball game, two teams that competed at a high level and at the end of the day they had some guys step up and make plays,” Butler head coach LaVall Jordan said. “We have make sure we are smarter on both ends of the court. When we did that, we did a great job and when we didn’t they made us pay.”
The loss dropped Butler to 15-2 and 3-1 in Big East play.
Butler had moved in to the top-5 in both polls using tenacious defense and making big plays late in crunch time in close games.
On Wednesday, the roles were reversed.
“They are really good, and that’s part of the challenge,” Jordan said. “You want to play against the best, and execute against the best. We have to keep on improving, push each other tomorrow in practice so we can grow and get better.”
Butler took a 66-65 lead with 3:48 to play on a three-point play by Sean McDermott, but made just 1 of 6 shots and had an unforced turnover down the stretch.
After shooting better than 60 percent for most of the first half, Butler shot just 30 percent in the second half and 1 of 11 from behind the arc.
“We were able to score and get into our press a little more,” Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard said. “We were able to take away McDermott and (Jordan) Tucker, and made it harder on them to get open shots.”
After McDermott’s free throw, Seton Hall reclaimed the lead on two free throws from Jared Rhoden, then Powell hit his fifth 3 of the game after a Kamar Baldwin turnover to put the visitors up four.
Down two with 34 seconds left, the Bulldogs had a chance at a stop and a possession that could of tied or given them a late lead, but Rhoden hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to ice the game.
Willard admitted after the game that Rhoden (13 points) actually wasn’t supposed to be an option on the play, but was able to get loose when two Bulldogs got caught on a screen.
“We got hung up in the screen and didn’t get out there early enough,” Jordan said. “Christian David did that for us at St. John’s and Rhoden did that for them tonight. In these close games, someone has to step up and make a play and they did.”
Seton Hall jumped out to a nine-point lead early in the first half, but Butler out-scored the Pirates 28-9 over a 10-minute stretch to take a 10-point lead that they carried into the half.
The Pirates shot just 25 percent in the final 13 minutes of the first half, but the second half was a different story.
Seton Hall’s 7-2 center Romaro Gill became more of a factor in the second half, scoring 15 of his 17 points in the first 11 minutes of the second half.
And when the Bulldogs had to turn their attention to Gill, that freed up the pre-season All-American Powell.
Powell started the game 4-of-11 from the field, but made five of his next seven shots, including three from behind the arc.
He scored 10 points in a 17-4 run that turned a seven-point Butler lead into a six-point deficit.
That biggest factor for Butler in Powell’s second-half dominance was that point guard Aaron Thompson was limited to three minutes in the second half due to foul trouble.
“He is the guy that makes them go,” Willard said. “He does so many good things and makes so many good decisions, plus he is a good defender. When he wasn’t in there, that freed up Powell a little bit and made things easier.”
Quincy McKnight added 11 points and 13 assists for the Pirates.
Baldwin led the Bulldogs with 19 points, with Tucker adding 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bulldogs head on the road to DePaul on Saturday.
“We have adversity well so far, and I think they will continue to handle it i the same manner,” Jordan said. “Our leadership has been tremendous, and now they have to keep everyone focused and make sure we get better from this.”