One of Those Nights: PC Runs into a Buzzsaw, Losing to Connecticut 87-69

It pains me to not remember the origin of this saying, but one of my favorite quips from a college coach is, “The other team gives out scholarships too”. So often, it is easy to be critical of your team and point out the mistakes they committed while not giving the necessary credit to the opposition for playing well. It was not so much that Providence lost the game with poor play, but rather that the Huskies played really damn well. And that is okay. These things happen in conference play.

Connecticut put together one of its more efficient offensive games of the entire season on the way to a thorough beating of the Friars. They shot 53% from the field and 48% from deep. You aren’t going to beat many teams when they are putting up those numbers, no matter who they are. With all the hoopla surrounding the game ($2 dollar beers, senior night, white out), this game had all the makings of one that would slip away from PC. The dam eventually broke, and this will be a good learning experience for this Friar squad.

Friar fans will be upset about this one because it was a beatdown in conference play against a rival, but it is a testament to where the Friar program currently is that Connecticut pulled out all the stops above just to maximize the likelihood of securing a win. Providence is one of the top dogs in the Big East and is being treated as such by their brethren in the Big East.

While this one certainly stings, it is just one game, and the Friars need to ensure this doesn’t snowball into a loss Sunday against Georgetown. We break down what went wrong for the Friars in this game below.

Revisiting the Preview

The performance of Hopkins – If Providence is to play Connecticut again in MSG, I’m thrilled that they won so handily despite keeping Karaban on Hopkins. It likely means Karaban will be assigned to him in Round 3 of this match-up. Hopkins had 16 points on 4-10 shooting, but was largely kept in check by the team defense of the Huskies. Karaban wasn’t put into too many precarious positions on defense, but this isn’t a match-up that he is going to win. Sanogo and Clingan did a great job of helping when Hopkins beat him off the dribble, and Hurley did implement a few doubles on Hopkins. Providence needs to do a better job in the next match-up of identifying who Karaban is guarding and getting them the ball. That’s a weakness they exploited in the first match-up and didn’t do enough of in this one.

Be Competitive on the Boards – This was the reason Connecticut won so handily. Providence, who is known as one of the best rebounding teams in the entire country, was outrebounded 40 – 20. That can’t happen. A lot of these rebounds led to second chance opportunities, which so often were dagger three’s by the Huskies. Cooley was not pleased post game with the effort on the glass, so I’m sure the Friars will be hearing about that moving forward.

We said pregame that Providence needed to be equal to Connecticut on the glass to have a chance to win, and that didn’t happen.

Guard Play Pivotal – This was somewhat of a wash. Newton scored 12 points on 3-10 shooting, but helped in other ways with 7 assists and 7 rebounds to only one turnover. Bynum was hot from deep in the first half and finished with 14 points, but was seemingly a non-factor in the second half when the wheels came off.

Carter vs. Hawkins – If you didn’t have a rooting interest in this game, this match-up alone was worth the price of admission. Hawkins finished with 20 points on 7-14 shooting, but those numbers don’t tell the full story. Carter played incredibly well defensively in this match-up. A lot of the buckets from Hawkins were in transition, and Carter did a very nice job of slowing down Hawkins in the half court. Carter finished with 2 blocks and one steal, but Hawkins found other ways to produce. I’m firmly in the camp that Hawkins has played himself into a lock first round NBA pick. He’s a special talent.

The downside to Carter running ragged guarding Hawkins is that he may not have had a lot in the tank on the offensive end. He finished with 7 points on 3-10 shooting. When Carter is assigned to a player like Hawkins, his teammates need to understand that they need to carry the scoring load as his primary focus will be on the defensive end.

Sanogo wins Round 2 – I thought Croswell got the better of Sanogo in the first match-up, but Sanogo won this round with 16 points on an efficient 7-9 scoring. Croswell was kept in check, which I honestly expect against this dominant frontline.

Providence next plays on the road Sunday at Georgetown at 12:30.

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