Providence, fresh off a win against a depleted #15 Seton Hall team, strolled into Chicago and handily beat the DePaul Blue Demons to get to 13-1 on the season. Providence maintains their grip atop the leaderboard of the Big East at 3-0 in conference play and have won 8 in a row. We break down the win below.
Revisiting Keys to the Game
This game went much differently than both The Crier and I anticipated (https://theprovidencecrier.com/2021/12/31/providence-friars-look-to-start-2022-with-a-win-pc-vs-depaul-preview/#more-4224).
- David Jones Availability – The game opened as essentially a pick-em due to the availability of David Jones. Jones, prior to this game, averaged 17 and 8. With Jones and Freeman-Liberty together, Vegas presumed this game would be a tight one. Jones had an abysmal game, scoring 3 total points on 1-9 from the floor. It is hard to speculate if Jones was still getting his body back to “normal” after sitting out due to COVID, but I tend to believe it was the stifling defense of the Friars that led to this performance.
- Who Guards Freeman-Liberty – Freeman-Liberty had a respectable game of 22 points, but didn’t really contribute elsewhere. Freeman-Liberty is an extremely well rounded player, who averages 8 rebounds and 4 assists. In this one, he had zero assists and three rebounds. Providence did a fantastic job all game on defense, even when the game was soundly in hand.
- On-Ball Pressure – Providence clearly did an incredible job on the defensive end, but it wasn’t necessarily due to careless play by the Blue Demons. DePaul only had 10 turnovers. The lack of offensive output was again just a by-product of Providence playing incredible team defense.
- Nate Watson’s Recovery – Nate played 21 minutes, but wasn’t his normal self. Watson only had 3 points on 1-9 shooting, with many of those looks right at the rim. It was an “off” night for Nate, but the great thing about this team is how many others can step up and contribute when one of the stars on the team aren’t at their best.
- Continue to Get Reeves and Horchler Quality Looks from Deep – This one should have an asterisk next to it, as Reeves left the game with a finger injury (non-shooting hand it appears). Reeves and Horchler went a combined 3-6 from deep. Having them shoot 50% from 3 in any game is a recipe for success.
- Providence Imposes Defensive Will – Providence continues to impress on the defensive end. They held the Blue Demons to 27 points below their season average. You read that right. 27. DePaul was held below 30% from the floor (29.8%).
Other Key Takeaways from Game
- Bynum’s Emergence – I think Jared Bynum may be playing his best basketball of his Providence career. Bynum scored 12 points, but his effectiveness as a point guard setting up his teammates for quality looks is what really stands out. Bynum had 7 total assists, but more importantly 1 turnover. Providence went 43% from the field and 53% from 3, which is a testament to Bynum putting his teammates in a place to succeed.
- Finger Injury for Reeves – The injury appears minor, but it is worth monitoring heading into next game against Marquette.
- Minaya the Energizer Bunny – Minaya does a little bit of everything. I call him the Energizer Bunny because he just doesn’t stop playing hard and has a seemingly endless motor. Minaya had 12 points total (2 3’s!) with 11 assists and 2 blocks. He is the ultimate hustle player, and he has absolutely earned starter minutes.
Providence continues its road trip with a game against Marquette Tuesday at 9PM EST on FS1.