PC shot 55.8 percent (29-52) from the field to tie a program record in the Tournament. The third-year starter leads Butler in scoring this season (17.5 points) and has plenty of experience playing under pressure in March, having led Butler to NCAA Tournament appearances the past two seasons.
The last time Butler played Providence three times in one season, they lost all three of those contests. Villanova has an assist on 40 of 69 field goals (58 percent) across its previous three matchups while Providence has assists on 45 of 84 field goals (53.6 percent) during its past three games.
"Maliek looked like Superman out there", Cooley said.
Providence saw four players reach double figures, led by Maliek White, who scored a career-high 19 points on 8-11 shooting.
The win advanced Providence to a quarterfinal game against No. 25 Villanova (22-9), which clinched its fifth outright regular-season title and the top seed on Saturday. The Wildcats won both regular-season meetings, including an 85-67 home victory on February 13. Isaiah Johnson and AJ Reeves combined for 44 points at the Dunkin Donuts Center on the final day of the regular season in a game where the Bulldogs were down by as many as 28 points.
"Obviously, a ton of credit to Coach Cooley and Providence", Butler coach LaVall Jordan said.
DID YOU KNOW: Villanova has made 10.7 3-pointers per game as a collective unit this year, which is second-best among Big East teams. Both teams likely need to win the tournament to earn their way into the 2019 NCAA Tournament, so the intensity level should be high Wednesday.
Junior forward Alpha Diallo, named to the 2nd team all-Big East squad, took advantage of matchup issues with the smaller Bulldogs in the paint at this point and with the Butler focus on slowing the Friars down inside, it was White's turn to flip the switch. "They tell me to keep shooting the ball".
Thompson fueled a fast start for Butler (16-16), scoring six points during a 10-2 run to open the game. "Coach told us we have to take those open shots, and I kept shooting it".
The Butler Bulldogs were once a power on the national stage, but they have had a rough season.
Butler got within six points early in the second half, but White hit a layup to ignite a 15-point run that featured seven points by Diallo.
Providence is 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games following a win and 0-7 ATS in their last seven following a cover.
Butler: Waits to see if it gets a postseason berth to a tournament other than the NCAA.
Game time for Providence and Villanova is 12 Noon Thursday, in the first of four quarterfinal games at Madison Square Garden.