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Monday / February 20.

No. 18 Butler Hands No. 1 Villanova First Loss of Season

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By MIKE McCURRY

It had been a while since the No. 1 team in the country played at Hinkle Fieldhouse–1953, in fact.

No. 18 Butler took advantage of the rare opportunity on Wednesday, as the Bulldogs protected their homecourt by knocking off No. 1 and previously unbeaten Villanova, 66-58, snapping the Wildcats’ 20-game winning streak in the process.

Kethan Savage and Andrew Chrabascz each scored 13 points to lead Butler, who improved to 2-5 all-time versus No. 1 ranked teams. The first of those wins came in December 2012 against Indiana.

Butler, which less than a week ago suffered a road loss at St. John’s before being forced to make an emergency landing on the team flight home, added another marquee win to its top-notch resume, which already featured victories over Arizona, Cincinnati, Indiana, and Northwestern.

Butler coach Chris Holtmann improved to 1-4 against Jay Wright.

Villanova had not lost since last year’s Big East Tournament championship to Seton Hall, as the Wildcats fell to 50-7 in regular season conference games over the last three-plus years.

On Wednesday, the reigning national champions posted season-lows in points (58), assists (7), and shooting percentage (37 percent).

National Player of the Year candidate Josh Hart posted arguably his worst game of the season, as the senior scored 13 points on 3-of-11 shooting, including a 1-of-5 mark from long distance.

Hart had just one turnover, but it was quite costly. With his team down four and a little over a minute remaining, Hart was stripped by Butler’s fearless freshman Kamar Baldwin for a strip-and-score.

Photo: @ButlerMBB

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