Rhode Island (2-6) at Providence (6-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, December 6, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dunkin' Donuts Center (12,410) -- Providence, Rhode Island. Television: Cox. Home Record: URI 1-3, PC 5-0. Away Record: URI 1-1, PC 0-0. Neutral Record: URI 0-2, PC 1-2. Conference Record: URI 0-0, PC 0-0. Series Record: Providence leads, 68-54.
GAME NOTES: The shorthanded Providence Friars will try to fend off their rival Rhode Island Rams when the two meet at the Dunkin' Donuts Center for state bragging rights.
After an 0-5 start, the Rams have picked it up by winning two of their last three games. Rhode Island surprised many by pulling off a 78-72 double overtime win over Auburn on the road. Coach Dan Hurley was unable to guide his team to a consecutive decision, but it came up just short in a three-point loss to George Mason. However, the Rams came storming back to take down Vermont, 76-66, on Saturday. URI is 20-50 all-time versus members of the Big East.
The Friars picked up their fourth win in a row and improved to 6-2 on the season with a 73-63 decision over Mississippi State on Saturday. However, coach Ed Cooley had to finish the second half with only five scholarship players after Bryce Cotton, who is now listed as day-to-day, was injured in the opening period. The team's only losses have come to Massachusetts and Penn State in the Puerto Rico Tipoff. The Friars have won their last three games by double-digit margins.
This will be the 125th time Rhode Island and Providence will face each other on the hardwood. The Friars hold a 68-56 lead in the all-time series, which began on Dec. 7, 1920. Last season, URI dropped an 80-61 decision at the Thomas M. Ryan Center on Dec. 23, 2011. Providence has won the last four meetings between the two teams at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
URI has been much more efficient on the offensive end as of late. After scoring an average of 54.5 ppg through its first five games, the team is producing 68.7 ppg over the course of its last three outings. The Rams were trailing Vermont, 20-18, with 6:09 left in the first half, before they launched a 21-4 run to take control. Xavier Munford scored 25 points to lead the team. The junior guard is leading the Atlantic 10 with 18.9 ppg. Munford is playing well alongside senior forward Nikola Malesevic, who is second on the team with 12.7 ppg. Senior guard Andre Malone is the contributing 10.4 ppg in 34.1 minutes per contest.
Providence is decent on both ends of the floor this season as it is scoring 68 ppg on 44.7 percent shooting from the field, while limiting opponents to only 57.9 ppg on 37.3 percent shooting. The Friars' ability to fluster the opposition was on display its last time out as they held the Bulldogs to 19.2 percent shooting from the field in the first half. Mississippi State struggled to connect on anything from long range and finished 2-of-22 from beyond the arc in the contest. Kadeem Batts paced the Friars with 32 points and eight rebounds. Cotton is leading the team with 22.1 ppg, but Batts (17.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg) will most likely become the go-to-guy if he is out once again. LaDonte Henton is having strong sophomore campaign with averages of 16.4 points and seven boards per contest.
The Friars have not had too much trouble with their intrastate rival recently, but that may change this season. Providence is very thin right now due to injuries and unexpected eligibility issues. Rhode Island is playing inspired basketball with Munford leading the charge. However, the Friars still hold an edge with Henton and Batts up front.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Providence 67, Rhode Island 62
12/06 10:38:40 ET