Second Half Slump, Costly Turnovers Hurt Friars in Loss to #3 Villanova

The Providence Friars fought valiantly for 20 minutes against Villanova before self-inflicted mistakes and poor play in the second half ultimately lead to a Villanova victory over Providence 71-56. The loss drops the Friars to 8-7 with a key stretch of Big East games remaining.

Revisiting Keys to Game for Friars Victory

Avoid Fouls – Providence had 20 fouls to Villanova’s 13. Fans will complain that Villanova has the refs in the back-pocket, but I didn’t see the foul calls as egregious as it has been in other games against Villanova.

Make JRE work on Defensive End: This wasn’t one of Nate’s better games. JRE did a valiant job on the defensive end, holding Watson to 12 points on 5-10 shooting while forcing him to turn the ball over a few times. JRE went 4-11 with 9 points, so this highly touted matchup was a bit of a stalemate. Watson rushed a few shots and seemed to never get into a rhythm. The players around Watson need to do a better job with the post passes, as many of the turnovers came from this type of pass.

Take Care of The Ball: This is the singular reason Providence got it’s doors blown off in the second half. Providence had 19 turnovers to Villanova’s 10. If Providence was going to win this game, it needed to play a clean game. This just didn’t happen, and Villanova made Providence pay.

Takeaways from the Game

Allyn Breed Shines: Breed was the best player on the court for the Friars, no questions asked. Breed had 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists (to one turnover). He seemed extremely comfortable on the court and made life difficult for the Villanova guards with his strong defense. Breed needs to put on some muscle and spend this offseason in a weight room, but he is clearly a bright spot in this rather underwhelming season thus far.

When Bynum gets fully healthy, I’d like to see a line-up change of Bynum, Breed, Duke, Nichols, Watson. Breed has absolutely deserved a starting role with his performance the past two games. The Friars are a better team when he is in.

Duke Needs a Reset: Duke had one of his worst games of the season, shooting 4-17 from field (1-6 from 3) with 6 turnovers. He was forcing shots and trying to create 1:1 instead of letting the offense come to him. With Breed and Nichols emerging alongside Watson, Duke needs to trust his teammates and play within the flow of the offense.

End of Half Snafu (Again): Villanova cut the lead from 6 to 3 with a first half buzzer beater three. These things happen, but the personnel on the court was perplexing. Breed wasn’t in foul trouble, but he was subbed for walk-on Andrew Fonts. Fonts was then beat off the dribble by Gillespie for the 3.

I doubt this had any impact on the inevitable outcome of the game, but going into half up 6 is much different than 3. This is the second game where we fell asleep at the wheel right before halftime (Ballock 3 at home against Creighton). That falls on the shoulders of the coaching staff.

Providence has gotten through the “tough” portion of its schedule and have Marquette and Georgetown next week. It is imperative they go 2-0.

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