INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Kethan Savage scored five of his 13 points during a decisive seven-point run to give No. 18 Butler a 66-58 victory over No. 1 Villanova on Wednesday night, ending the Wildcats’ 20-game winning streak.
Butler (13-2, 2-1 Big East) improved to 4-0 against ranked opponents this season and extended its home winning streak to 12 games, beating a top-ranked team for the second time in school history.
The Bulldogs did it by upending the defending national champions and stopping the longest winning streak in Villanova history.
Jalen Brunson had 23 points and Josh Hart scored 13 on a rugged shooting night for the Wildcats (14-1, 2-1), beaten for the first time since a 69-67 loss to Seton Hall in the Big East championship game last March.
From there, the Wildcats won all six games in the 2016 NCAA Tournament before opening 14-0 this season to build the longest active winning streak in the country.
“We beat an unbelievable program and an unbelievable team,” Butler coach Chris Holtmann said. “Our kids performed at a high level.”
Villanova’s loss left No. 2 Baylor and No. 5 Gonzaga as the only undefeated teams left in Division I. Baylor, which has never been ranked No. 1, was set to host Iowa State later Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs took the lead for good when Savage scored on a layup with 2:57 left to make it 53-52. After Kelan Martin’s basket, Savage turned a steal into a three-point play for a 58-52 lead with 1:46 to go, and the Wildcats never recovered.
Villanova started the night as one of three remaining undefeated teams in Division I. It headed home with its first loss since last season – on a night when the Wildcats shot a season-low 37 percent. Coach Jay Wright also earned his first technical foul of the season.
Neither team ever really had complete control until the final stretch
Butler erased the Wildcats’ biggest lead of the night, 15-7, with a 9-0 run. Villanova answered with the next seven points.
It was more of the same in the second half and at one point, the teams traded leads on five consecutive baskets.
But after Hart’s 8-footer gave Villanova a 52-51 edge with 3:19 left, Savage started the crucial run with a layup and closed it out with the three-point play.
Butler sealed it by making six straight free throws in the final 33 seconds, and fans stormed the court when it was over.
The Bulldogs finished 15 of 15 at the foul line.
“I thought we had great lift from the bench again. We need that,” Holtmann said. “I thought our guys stayed with it and made the necessary plays.”
Villanova: The dream of an undefeated season is over. But the goal of winning back-to-back championships still exists, and there’s little doubt that the Wildcats are still one of the favorites to make it to the Final Four in Phoenix this spring.
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. Now, Butler will jump back into the national debate. … Butler’s other victory over a top-ranked team came in 2012 against Indiana.
Villanova: Returns to Philadelphia for a two-game homestand that begins with Marquette on Saturday.
Butler: The Bulldogs must put this big win behind them when they visit Georgetown on Saturday.