MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Butler coach Chris Holtmann had the perfect plan to take down No. 1 Villanova on Wednesday night.
Play ugly, which worked beautifully.
Kethan Savage scored five of his 13 points during a decisive late run that helped the 18th-ranked Bulldogs end the nation’s longest winning streak at 20 games — and perhaps the Wildcats’ five-week run atop the polls — with a 66-58 victory that sent students streaming onto the court.
“We felt if we could make it ugly on the defensive end, we’d give ourselves a chance,” Holtmann said. “We did.”
What the Bulldogs (13-2, 2-1 Big East) also did was add another chapter to a storied program that captured the hearts of college basketball fans with back-to-back runs to the national championship game in 2010 and 2011 and broke hearts when two recent former players and the son of an assistant coach all died in 2016.
By extending their home-court winning streak to 12, the Bulldogs handed the defending national champs their first loss since last March. After losing 69-67 to Seton Hall in the Big East championship game, Villanova won six straight in the NCAA Tournament to capture its second national title. Then the Wildcats won their first 14 games this season for the longest winning streak in school history.
The loss left No. 2 Baylor , which beat Iowa State 65-63 on Wednesday night, and No. 5 Gonzaga as the nation’s only unbeaten teams.
“It stings right now,” Villanova preseason All-America Josh Hart said after scoring 13 points. “But we’re not going to be discouraged by it.”
Hart was 3 of 11 from the field and 1 of 5 on 3-pointers.
He wasn’t the only one having a rough night, though.
Kris Jenkins, the championship game hero, had 11 points. Villanova shot a season-low 37.3 percent from the field and was just 6 of 26 from beyond the arc. Coach Jay Wright picked up his first technical foul of the season, and when the score got close late, the Wildcats just couldn’t come up with big plays.
Butler did — beating the No. 1 team for only second time in school history. They also defeated No. 1 Indiana in 2012.
“They prevented us from getting those guys involved,” Wright said when asked about why the Wildcats’ better scorers had so much trouble. “They played really good team defense. I was impressed.”
So was the rest of the sellout crowd inside Hinkle Fieldhouse, especially with Savage’s perfectly timed plays.
His driving layup with 2:59 left gave Butler a 53-52 lead.
Kelan Martin’s jumper on the next possession sent the crowd into a frenzy that got even louder as Savage jumped in front of Jenkins for a steal and drove in for another layup, drawing Hart’s fourth foul. Savage completed the three-point play to make it 58-52 with 1:46 to go, and Villanova never recovered.
“I came to Butler to be in games like this,” Savage said. “To come out here and be able to play and have moments like that is really special, something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”
Villanova: The dream of an undefeated season is over. But the goal of winning back-to-back national championships still exists, and there’s little doubt the Wildcats remain a Final Four favorite.
Butler: The Bulldogs have had some big wins during the last decade — and this one will go on the list as one of the most monumental regular-season victories in school history.
Jalen Brunson had 23 points for Villanova, outscored 25-6 in points off the bench.
Andrew Chrabascz finished with 13 points and seven rebounds for Butler. Martin had 12 points and six rebounds.
BEEN A WHILE
Hinkle Fieldhouse might be one of college basketball’s meccas, but it hasn’t hosted many top-ranked teams.
Wednesday’s game marked the first time since Dec. 12, 1953, that the nation’s No. 1 team played on Butler’s campus and only the second time since the building opened in 1928. Butler lost 76-57 in 1953 to defending national champion Indiana. Butler is now 4-0 against ranked teams this season, beating three top-10 teams.
It took Wright 15 games to get his first technical, midway through the first half. He could have gotten No. 2 a few moments letter.
After Mikal Bridges’ mid-range jumper hit nothing but air after a Butler defender lunged at the shot and officials awarded the ball to the Bulldogs with 8:31 left in the first half, Wright stormed toward midcourt and continued arguing even after the whistle blew. Players and coaches held back Wright, and Savage made both free throws to give Butler its first lead, 16-15.
Villanova: Returns to Philadelphia for a two-game homestand that begins Saturday with Marquette.
Butler: The Bulldogs must put this big win behind them when they visit Georgetown on Saturday.
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