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Providence earns first top-10 road win in 11 years at No. 9 Butler

A case can be made that Providence earned its biggest regular season victory in more than a decade Thursday in beating No. 9 Butler on the road with a big second half.

In an entertaining game in which all the best players on both sides seemed to perform well, the best player in that mix and quite possibly the best player in the nation this season made all the difference in the Friars’ 81-73 come-from-behind triumph.

Providence's Kris Dunn (3) and Rodney Bullock (5) react after a dunk by Dunn during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Butler, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, in Indianapolis. Providence won 81-73. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Providence's Kris Dunn (3) and Rodney Bullock (5) react after a dunk by Dunn during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Butler, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, in Indianapolis. Providence won 81-73. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

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Providence guard Kris Dunn failed to get into a rhythm in the first half and found himself sidelined with two fouls, but he finished the game with his usual flirtation with a triple double, registering 20 points, seven rebounds and nine assists. Most of the damage came in the second half when he scored 16, snagged all of his rebounds and dished seven of those assists.

The victory over No. 9 Butler was the first road win over a top-10 opponent for Providence since the 2004 season and proved the Friars might be worthy of a top-10 ranking as well. Providence improved to 13-1 and earned its first big win in what is shaping up to me a very competitive season in the top half of the Big East.

Providence has struggled in stretches this season when it relies too much on Dunn and when it doesn’t have one of the members of its big three on the court. But Dunn, Rodney Bullock and Ben Bentil all played at a high level during a 56-point second-half in which the Friars overcame an 11-point deficit.

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It wasn’t easy. It never is against Butler.

Roosevelt Jones scored 19 points with six rebounds and four assists for the Bulldogs and Kelan Martin added 20 points in 31 minutes off the bench. But Butler couldn’t match the scoring prowess on display from the Friars in the second.

During the decisive stretch from the 10-minute mark until just under 4 minutes remained in the game, Bullock and Dunn combined to make five 3-pointers providing the cushion needed in what was a close game.

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[Kyle Ringo is the assistant editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at kyle.ringo@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!