Cotton leads Providence past Butler 87-81
LaDontae Henton added 15 points for Providence (18-10, 8-7), while Josh Fortune, Tyler Harris and Kadeem Batts had 14 apiece.
Kellen Dunham scored 25 points and Khyle Marshall chipped in 22 for the Bulldogs (12-15, 2-13) who have now lost six straight.
Butler trailed 46-33 at halftime after finishing the first half flat and unable to slow Providence's tandem of Cotton and Fortune, who scored 12 points in the first period.
But the Bulldogs pushed the Friars back on their heels immediately out of the break with a 15-2 run in the first 5 minutes. During the run, Dunham knocked down two quick 3's and hit a free throw after getting fouled on a successful layup.
Dunham finished 9 of 16 and 3 of 8 from deep, while Marshall was 10 of 17 from the field. Kameron Woods added 10 rebounds.
Providence retook the lead for good on a Henton 3-pointer with just under 10 minutes left and the Friars made 12 of 15 free throws in the final 4 minutes to seal it.
The Friars, whose NCAA tournament resume couldn't afford a loss to the Big East's second-worst team, put considerable distance between themselves and Butler with a 15-4 run in the first half.
Cotton was held scoreless and largely quiet in Providence's offense early on. But he found his touch midway through first half and never cooled off, finishing 5 of 7 from 3-point range.
Cotton and Fortune both played the entire game, in which all five starters scored in double figures.
''Bryce was Bryce again,'' Providence coach Ed Cooley said. ''In our league and in the country he is one of the players who is not spoken about enough. He willed us to win today.''