In true Big East fashion, Madison Square Garden was rocking on Thursday afternoon. But through the voices of almost 15,000 people, Providence forward Ben Bentil's biggest fan was shouting to him from mere feet away.
Bentil enjoyed one of the finest games of his collegiate career in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday, and his head coach could only stand in awe.
"I was a fan today," Providence coach Ed Cooley said following the Friars' 74-60 win over Butler. "To see the ball going in the net like that, and he scored it every imaginable way -- drives, step-backs."
It's outbursts like this that make it easy to forget Bentil is sometimes overlooked. That's through no fault of his own -- it's just that he shares the court with two-time Big East Player of the Year Kris Dunn.
Dunn at guard and Bentil as a do-it-all forward have created a combo that make the Friars tough to beat when they're both locked in. Provided the duo stays consistent, the Friars will be a tough matchup, even against all-around better competition.
At least one of them has scored in double figures in every game this season and they have combined for 14 double-doubles (including a triple-double from Dunn back in December). They each play north of 33 minutes per game and are the Friars' top players in points per game and field goal percentage.
On Thursday, Dunn's greatest asset was his ability to share the ball, specifically to his fellow first-team All-Big East teammate. Of his seven assists, six of them went to Bentil.
"As a point guard you have to know when to score and when to get the ball to your guys," Dunn said.
Dunn seemed to have little trouble figuring that out.
"Kris came into the huddle and said, ‘where do we get him the ball next?'" Cooley said. "Give him the ball. He'll figure it out."
Bentil, though soft-spoken, found no problem heaping praise on his teammate in return.
"Playing with a great teammate like Kris, he will get you the ball in the right spot," Bentil said. "When you have a hot hand, he'll make sure the ball is in your hand."
In a single-elimination tournament, sometimes it's best to ride the hot hand, especially when the opponent just can't match up.
"We were trying to double our traps," Butler coach Chris Holtmann said in the aftermath of Bentil's outburst. "We weren't early enough on some of our traps. But he scored through our traps some too."
In fact, he scored pretty much any way he wanted to: through double teams, off the catch or off the dribble. It didn't matter.
Bentil's performance Thursday stacks up among the greatest in the Big East's storied history. His 38 points tied Jamine "Greedy" Peterson for a team tournament record. That mark was only four points behind Donyell Marshall for the most ever scored in a Big East Tournament game.
Bentil's 16 made field goals were also a tournament single-game best.
Providence, a team thought to be falling toward the NCAA Tournament bubble just a few weeks ago, has now won five straight games. During the Friars' recent winning streak, Bentil is averaging 29.4 points per game. He's shooting 50 percent from the floor in that span and 40 percent from three.
Dunn, meanwhile, is averaging 15 points and eight assists in his last three games.
The challenge gets tougher on Friday when Providence faces top-seeded Villanova. The two teams split their regular season matchups, but the Wildcats have won 11 out of 12 games and seem to be a lock for a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
It'll take even more from those two to reach the Saturday night final for the second time in three years, but no matter what happens, Providence can head into Selection Sunday knowing it has the firepower to make a run.