INDIANAPOLIS – In a showdown game between two top-25 teams, it was Seton Hall that stepped up and made all the plays at the end.
Myles Powell and 7-foot-2 Romaro Gill combined for 34 second-half points, Quincy McKnight finished with a career high 13 assists and the No. 18 Pirates overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to pull away from No. 5 Butler 78-70 Wednesday at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
“That's one of those environments, one of those games that's why they come to Butler for games like that,” Butler coach LaVall Jordan said. “It was a high level basketball game and at the end of the day they had some guys step up and make some plays.”
Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard kept it simple at halftime.
He needed Powell to be more aggressive, Gill to become a bigger presence in the post and McKnight to execute the plan flawlessly.
All of it worked.
“When you have the best player in America and he's able to get you 40 every night, you better hedge and do all of that,” Willard said. Ï think what Myles and our team understand better now is where (Powell) is going to get doubled and then, when you have someone like Romaro, you just throw it up to him.”
Even Butler's usually stout defense didn't have an answer for the dynamic duo of Powell, who had 29 points, and Gill, who matched his career high with 17. McKnight added 11 points and seven rebounds and had only one turnover in more than 35 minutes.
Together, they helped Seton Hall score 48 points in the second half – against a defense that was giving up 54.4 points per game – and extend their winning streak to seven. The Pirates (13-4, 5-0 Big East) are the only conference team with a perfect record in league play.
“When we lacked it (execution), they made us pay and that's what good teams do,” Jordan said.
On paper, it looks like their most impressive win all season. They've now beaten two top 10 teams, Maryland at home and Butler on the road.
Kamar Baldwin had 19 points and six assists to lead the Bulldogs (15-2, 3-1). Jordan Tucker finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds as Butler's six-game winning streak ended.
With Powell, Gill and McKnight leading the way, Seton Hall quickly cut a 40-30 halftime deficit to five. Gill then scored nine points during in a 15-6 run, capped by Powell's 3-pointer with 8:14 left, giving the Pirates a 58-57 lead.
Instead, Powell delivered the finishing touch by spurring a 13-4 run to close out the game.
“We got a little simpler on pick-and-roll coverage and I think that helped him (Gill) out a little bit because it freed him up,” Willard said. “We were doing everything.”
Notes: Butler's Sean McDermott had 11 points as the Bulldogs were 6 of 21 on 3s. ... Point guard Aaron Thompson fouled out with 6:28 to play, finishing with six points and three assists. ... Despite struggling in the post and giving up a season-high point total, Butler still won the rebounding battle 36-34 Still won the rebounding battle 36-34. ... Butler fell to 9-1 at home, playing on their home court for the first time as a top-five team since Hinkle Fieldhouse opened in 1928. ... Seton Hall's Jared Rhoden had 13 points while Powell made five 3s and Gill had three blocks. ... Seton Hall has won five consecutive conference games in the same season for the first time since 2008-09 and has won three of its last four games at Hinkle. ... The Pirates had held their previous 13 opponents below their scoring average. That streak ended Wednesday.