GAMES NOTES: The Providence Friars make the trek to the Pavilion in
Philadelphia on Sunday to battle the Villanova Wildcats in Big East action.
Providence came up just short on Thursday against Connecticut as the Friars
lost 82-79 in overtime to the Huskies. The loss dropped the Friars below .500
overall this season (10-11), giving them their seventh loss in nine Big East
contests. The setback was also the third in the last four for Providence which
is just 1-5 on the road.
Villanova also suffered a let down in its last outing as it fell 65-60 against
Notre Dame on Wednesday. The loss came on the heels of two wins against top
five Louisville and Syracuse squads for the Wildcats who are now 13-8 overall
and an even 4-4 in league play.
In the first meeting between these squads this season Providence picked up a
69-66 win at home. It was the second victory in the last three meetings
between these squads after the Wildcats had won eight straight. Villanova
still holds a slim 35-33 edge in the all-time series.
After trailing by as many as 13 points against UConn, Providence chipped away
and managed to take a three-point lead early in the second half. The teams
went back and forth the rest of the period with 12 ties and six lead changes.
The Friars trailed 69-67 with 18 seconds left when LaDonate Henton got a layup
to go and when Kris Dunn blocked Boatright's buzzer beater attempt the game
went to overtime. In the extra session the Friars had just a single field
goal, while allowing the Huskies to nail a pair of 3-pointers and get seven
points from the charity stripe.
Big East leading-scorer Cotton (21.4 ppg) actually had a down game against
UConn in scoring 18 points on just 4-of-15 shooting. That speaks to just how
effective Cotton has been as a scorer this season with those 18 points just
the fifth time this season he has scored fewer than 20 points. Henton (14.2
ppg, 8.2 rpg) and Kadeem Batts (14.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg) have been pillars in the
frontcourt. Running alongside Cotton in the backcourt is Vincent Council (10.4
ppg, 7.0 apg), who has distributed extremely well after missing the first 10
games of the season. Despite Cotton's efforts the Friars are just 10th in the
Big East in scoring (68.9 ppg) and 13th in field-goal percentage (.417).
Neither team was able to lead by more than eight points in Villanova's battle
with Notre Dame. The difference in the contest, in which both teams shot right
around 42 percent overall, was shooting from beyond the arc. Notre Dame
knocked down nine 3-pointers, while the Wildcats had just three.
Villanova is just a shade better than Providence in terms of points per game
(69.2), while sitting a spot behind the Friars in field-goal percentage
(.410). Villanova has kept itself in games by limiting teams to 39.6 percent
shooting on the defensive end. JayVaughn Pinkston (12.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg) has been
the most consistent scorer for the Wildcats, doing so primarily off the bench.
In the starting lineup freshman Ryan Arcidiacono (11.4 ppg, 3.3 apg) has been
the most productive scorer, though he has had his share of rookie struggles as
he shoots a paltry 33 percent from the floor. Darrun Hilliard (10.9 ppg) is
the only other double-figure scorer, but also shoots below 40 percent.
These two evenly matched squads already fought in a tightly contested battle
this season. The result should swing in Villanova's favor this time if only
because of its homecourt advantage.