Providence (4-0) vs. Vanderbilt (2-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 22, 6:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sports and Fitness Center (4,000) -- St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: PC 4-0, VU 2-0. Away Record: PC 0-0, VU 0-1. Neutral Record: PC 0-0, VU 0-0. Conference Record: PC 0-0, VU 0-0. Series Record: Vanderbilt leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The 2013 Paradise Jam begins on Friday, with one of the four bouts on the day pitting the Providence Friars against the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Both teams will be in action over the weekend as well, with the winner and loser taking on the same in the clash between Morgan State and La Salle. The championship bracket moves on to Sunday, while the consolation bracket takes center stage on Saturday. The final games take place on Monday.
Providence is 4-0 on the young season, the team taking out the likes of Boston College (82-78 OT), Brown (73-69), Marist (93-48) and Vermont (70-49), all at home. The Friars, who are hoping the make noise in the new-look Big East Conference this season and who have 14 in-season tournament titles to their credit all-time, still have difficult games against Kentucky, Rhode Island and UMass before opening league play against visiting Seton Hall on New Year's Eve.
Vanderbilt is facing its second straight opponent from the Big East, as it fell at Butler on Tuesday night, 85-77 in overtime. It was the first setback of the season for the Commodores, who opened with a pair home wins over Georgia State (86-80) and Lipscomb (80-69). The team's most recent victory (Lipscomb) was Kevin Stallings' 279th at the helm, making him the winningest coach in school history. While not expected to be the force it's been in recent years in the SEC, Vandy is still hopeful to make its league brethren stand up and take notice, and bouts like this one, along with those versus Texas and Georgia Tech next month, should have the team better prepared for the start of conference play, which begins at Alabama on Jan. 7, 2014.
In the only previous meeting between these two teams, the Commodores defeated the Friars, 72-66, on Nov. 9, 1998 in Providence as part of the CoSida Classic.
Providence jumped all over visiting Vermont the last time out, holding the Catamounts to 4-of-25 shooting (.160) in the first half and taking a 30-14 lead at intermission. The game was closer after the break, but the Friars managed to prevail thanks to 18 points each from Bryce Cotton and LaDonte Henton. Kadeem Batts also had a productive outing, logging a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Henton came close to notching his own double- dip by grabbing nine boards, while Kris Dunn came off the bench to hand out eight assists for a PC club that made good on 50 percent of its field goal attempts.
For the season, Cotton is pacing the team with 20.0 points and 7.0 assists per game, while Henton (17.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg), Batts (15.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg) and Tyler Harris (10.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg) have all gotten off to fast starts. As a team, the Friars are netting 79.5 ppg while allowing just 61.0 ppg. Foes are shooting just 39.3 percent from the floor, while being beaten on the glass by 14.0 rpg. Dunn played his first game of the season against Vermont after missing the first three with a shoulder injury. He also missed the first nine games of last season with a bum shoulder.
Eric McClellan scored a career-high 29 points earlier this week against Butler, but it wasn't enough as the Commodores fell to the Bulldogs in overtime. McClellan, a transfer from Tulsa, also added six rebounds and three assists, and attempted a career-high 16 free throws (making 11). McClellan is Vanderbilt's leading scorer this season, averaging an even 20.0 points per contest. Damian James chipped in a dozen points in the recent loss, the team as a whole shooting 48.1 percent from the field, but only 31.3 percent from 3- point range. Vandy committed an unsightly 19 turnovers in the setback.
At present, the Commodores are averaging 81.0 ppg while allowing 79.0 ppg. The team scored 80 points only once all of last season, and went over 75 points only three times. Vandy is shooting 52.3 percent from the floor, which i includes a 41.8 percent effort from 3-point land. In addition to McClellan, Rod Odom (16.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Damien Jones (11.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg) are also averaging double figures in scoring, while James Siakam (9.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.3 apg) heads the team's rebounding effort, and Kyle Fuller (9.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.7 apg) serves as its primary playmaker.
This should be a competitive game between two teams that aren't about to give up any ground to the other. Expect the Friars to fight tooth and nail to keep their perfect record intact, but for Commodores to earn the victory and continue on in the championship bracket.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Vanderbilt 77, Providence 74
11/22 10:39:42 ET