Last week the Friars were forced to wait for their Big East opener due to COVID outbreaks in Xavier and UConn programs. Instead of playing the Friars may have been watching the battle between Creighton and Kansas. The Jayhawks got the win in a tight one and Fox Sports tweeted out an intriguing stat.
While the tweet was meant to demonstrate Kansas’ ability to close out games it came as a surprise that the Friars were on this list and in 5th. Welp that win percentage needs to go up a bit.
The Friars survived an absolute war against the Seton Hall Pirates, winning 80-77 in OT, as PC improves to 5-2 on the year and 1-0 in conference. The first half was an offensive showcase for both squads after hot shooting lead to a 40-38 deficit at the break for the Friars.
In the opening moments of the second half Hall was able to extend their lead to as much as 9 but then at the 15:18 mark went cold. The Friars took full advantage of the Pirates’ 4+ minute scoring drought and used a 9-0 run to take a 1-point lead.
The rest of the game was an absolute rock fight with PC holding a 3-point edge with 15 seconds left. Sandro Mamukelashvili, who had a team leading 20 points, scored a critical and-1 over Jimmy Nichols thus forcing OT.
On that play Nichols fouled out, so in stepped AJ Reeves. In the overtime session with Hall facing a 3-point deficit it was AJ Reeves who was the guilty party on another game tying and-1 for Mamu. AJ’s redemption would come moments later. With Duke getting hounded by defenders close to the hoop he found AJ Reeves who drilled a three in the corner to give the Friars the W. While their execution down the stretch was filled with errors they showed resilience and left Newark with a huge victory.
Takeaways from the Game
Nate Watson and David Duke continue to be one of the top backcourt/frontcourt duos in the Big East: Watson is cementing himself as one of, if not the, best big men in Big East. Against a Pirates team with a ton of size, Watson still manages to score 23 points on an efficient 10-16 from the floor with 11 rebounds. David Duke put up a double double as well with 18 points and 10 rebounds. If they continue to produce at this rate, Providence will be a formidable opponent for all Big East teams.
Jared Bynum’s Strong Game
Bynum continues to be the pass first point guard Providence needs. Bynum dished out 8 assists, with only 2 turnovers. Let’s look beyond that: he made a 3!
Reeves has ice in his veins: Reeves has been in an incredible funk, but still managed to hit a game winning 3. He is an assassin with the game on the line, making game winning shots against BC, Marquette, and now Seton Hall. Hopefully, this made 3 boosts the confidence of Reeves. Providence needs him if the Friars want to make a push in the postseason.
Friars Free Throws
Shooting 81% from the stripe helped Providence secure this win. That was a pleasant surprise and hopefully a trend that continues.
Execution Down the Stretch
The execution at the end of close games needs to improve. I hate to close on a negative note, but Providence seems to always find a way to tighten up on the offensive end with the game on the line. The last few possessions of second half and overtime were messy, with a scramble play by Duke to bail them out. Duke should have the ball in his hands at the end of the game and not defer to Bynum or others. Also, Nichols cannot foul Mamu on that drive. That’s just terrible basketball IQ. Thankfully, the Friars survived.
Providence’s next game is Wednesday at 6pm against Butler, where the Friars hope to continue their winning streak and stay undefeated in Big East play.