GAME NOTES: The red-hot Marquette Golden Eagles look to continue their recent dominance over the Providence Friars when the teams meet up for a Big East Conference clash at the Bradley Center.
Marquette has won each of the last eight meetings with Providence to take an 11-4 series edge.
The Friars' 2012-13 season features a six-game winning streak, which was immediately followed by a five-game losing streak. Since that losing streak however, the Friars have split their last four games, and that includes Tuesday's 68-64 home loss to Pittsburgh. Rebounding with a win won't come easy, as the team is just 2-6 outside of Providence.
Meanwhile, Marquette is 10-0 at home and enters the contest looking to atone for last Saturday's 71-69 overtime loss at Cincinnati. The loss was the first in Big East play so far for the Golden Eagles, who had won six straight and eight of their previous nine games. Following this tilt, they'll stick around on campus to host USF on Monday.
Providence junior guard Bryce Cotton got off to a painfully slow start against Pittsburgh, and his teammates were not able to pick up the slack. Cotton, who leads the Big East in scoring (21.9 ppg), did not register a point until there were seven minutes left in the half. From there, he did manage to score the team's final 13 points of the half to narrow the deficit to seven at the break. But that early deficit proved too tough for the Friars to overcome. Cotton finished with a game-high 24 points, while Kadeem Batts tallied 17 points and nine rebounds. Vincent Council rounded out the team's double-digit scorers with 11 points and seven assists, although he also committed five turnovers. On the season, Cotton has scored 20 or more points in 14 of 17 games, including five straight. He also paces the conference with 3.4 3- pointers made per game (.417). Down low, Batts is averaging 14.5 points and 7.3 rebounds.
The Golden Eagles also got off to a slow start in their last outing, as they managed a mere 13 first-half points at Cincinnati and trailed by 16 at the break. They missed all nine of their attempts from beyond the arc in the opening frame and shot a dismal 17.9 percent from the floor. It marked the team's lowest first-half point total since being held to 15 points against North Carolina in the 2011 Sweet 16. MU turned things around in the second half, shooting 52 percent from the field and an impressive 7-of-11 from the perimeter to force overtime. However, there was simply not enough gas left in the tank to pull out the win. Vander Blue (14.0 ppg) scored a team-high 19 points to go along with eight rebounds in the loss, while Davante Gardner (13.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg) finished with 15 points and 11 boards.
Marquette has had the Friars' number of late, and the Golden Eagles' perfect 10-0 mark at home certainly presents a tough obstacle for Providence.