Providence was able to secure an absolutely massive win for the resume by knocking off previously undefeated Texas Tech 72-68. Don’t look too far ahead, but these wins out of conference are going to do wonders for the Friars as they head into the meat-grinder that is the Big East conference.
We revisit the keys to the game and highlight key takeaways from the game below.
- Providence wins despite subpar showing from their two leaders in the frontcourt – If you were to tell me that Horchler and Watson would combine for 11 points and 7 rebounds in total, I would have told you Texas Tech blew Providence out at home and won handily. The Red Raiders did a fantastic job preventing Nate from getting touches, while Horchler had an uncharacteristically poor game (1-6 from the field, 5 turnovers).
The thing that jumps out to me with Watson is that he did not force the issue at all. The importance of this cannot be understated. Watson understands his teammates can carry the load (which we didn’t see them do against Virginia), and he trusts them. Winning against a good Red Raiders team when Horchler and Watson have an off night is going to do wonders for this team moving forward. This was truly a team effort, and I applaud Watson for not forcing up shots and looks when double teamed.
Which brings me to my next point…
2. Ed Croswell is the MVP of the night – When your two studs aren’t at their best, you need others on the roster to step up and contribute. Croswell was the X factor tonight and helped keep this team afloat when they were in danger in the first half. Croswell played 22 minutes tonight, doubling his average playing time to date, and finished with 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks. This was Croswell’s best game to date as a Friar, in my opinion.
I’ve admittedly been tough on Croswell, but this game is hopefully a springboard for contributions for the rest of the season. Croswell brings an edge and toughness to this team any time he steps on the court. Simply put, Providence doesn’t win this game without Croswell stepping his play up. Kudos to you, Ed.
3. Providence shows up on the boards against Texas Tech – Texas Tech came in as the number one offensive rebounding team in the nation. Tech finished with 37 boards, while Providence finished with 35. When Providence can almost be 1:1 with Tech on the glass, that is a massive win. Tech is an uber-athletic team that plays with size and physicality. They remind me of the Jamie Dixon Pitt teams of old. This team is going to be a pain to deal with in the Big 12, especially as they continue to familiarize themselves with each other.
4. Durham continues to put up massive numbers in a very quiet fashion – Durham finished the game as the leading scorer for the squad with 23 points. I was shocked to see he had that many, but his contributions from the free throw line (12-13) helped bolster those numbers.
Durham is still learning the lead guard position, exemplified by his 4 turnovers, but he has an ability to score points in a multitude of ways, and that is sorely needed on this Friar squad.
5. Providence continues to build one of the most impressive out-of-conference resumes in the nation – You’d be hard pressed to find 25 teams with a more impressive resume to date than the Friars. Providence has knocked off previously undefeated Texas Tech, 5-2 Northwestern on a neutral site, and nationally ranked Wisconsin on the road. The jury is admittedly still out on these teams, but I can see them all being tournament teams come March. These are the type of wins that help determine seeding during NCAA tournament conversation, and Cooley has to be feeling fantastic about where his team stands as of today.
Providence takes on URI this Saturday at the Dunk, which should be a raucous environment. If the Friars can take care of business against the Rams, PC may be looking at receiving votes or even being ranked come Monday. It is a great time to be following this Providence team.