Fairfield (3-2) at Providence (3-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 23, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dunkin' Donuts Center 13,106) -- Providence, Rhode Island. Television: None. Home Record: Fairfield 0-0, Providence 2-0. Away Record: Fairfield 0-2, Providence 0-0. Neutral Record: Fairfield 3-0, Providence 0-0. Conference Record: Fairfield 0-0, Providence 1-2. Series Record: Providence leads, 31-5.
GAME NOTES: A pair of New England programs will go head-to-head on Friday night when the Fairfield Stags invade the Dunkin' Donuts Center to face off with the Providence Friars.
For the last four games, Fairfield was hooked up in sub-regional action of the NIT Season Tip-Off and split those contests. In Charlottesville the Stags got dropped by Virginia (54-45) before rebounding with a 62-53 win against Penn. Then in the Bethlehem sub-regional the Stags lost to Lehigh (82-67) and outlasted Fordham (74-71) Fairfield is now 3-2 overall this season and will play another road contest against a Big East opponent (DePaul) in its next game.
The big news for Providence early on was the loss of point guard Vincent Council in the first game of the season. Since the former All-Big East third team selection went down the Friars have gone 3-2 overall with losses in two of their last three contests. Those three contests came as part of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan where in its last game Providence beat UNC Asheville 72-67. This is the first of five straight home games for Providence with the next matchup featuring Holy Cross.
There has not been a great deal of parity between these squads with Providence owning a dominating 31-5 edge in the all-time series.
Fairfield let a 10-point lead in the second half slip away and found itself in a tie game 71-71 in the final minute against Fordham. Desmond Wade then hit a 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining and the Stags got stops on the other end to escape with the win. Fairfield shot 40.4 percent overall in the game and benefited from a 23-7 edge on points off turnovers. Wade scored 26 points and hit six of the team's nine triples.
The offensive efforts for Fairfield have not been particularly impressive thus far. The Stags are shooting at a 40.5 percent clip and scoring a pedestrian 62.4 points per game. The squad is also struggling on the boards (33.4 rpg). However by allowing just 64.6 points per game, the Stags have stayed close in most games. Derek Needham (11.6 ppg) is the only player on the team scoring in double figures but is shooting just 32.3 percent from the floor. He is one of three players to see more than 28 minutes per game that is shooting below 36 percent this season. Wade (8.8 ppg, 6.0 apg) is another one of those players but has made up for it to an extent with his distribution. Keith Matthews (9.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Amadou Sidibe (5.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg) are the top rebounders.
Providence shot at a high percentage throughout its matchup with UNC Asheville and earned the win by connecting on 55.1 percent of its field goal attempts overall. That helped the Friars overcome a game-high 20 turnovers as well as an 18-5 deficit in second chance points. Bryce Cotton had the hot hand in the game and scored 30 points.
Losing Council has not devastated Providence but the team is still down to 11.4 assists per game. That hasn't stopped the Friars from shooting reasonably well (45.1 FG percentage) while scoring at a solid 68.8 points per game clip. Head coach Ed Cooley's squad is rather shallow with only six players seeing time in all five games this season. Cotton (24.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.0 apg) has started in all four games he has played and is easily the top scorer on the team. Kadeem Batts (17.6 ppg, 9.6 rpg) and LaDontae Henton (15.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg) are also playing more than 33 minutes per game and adding scoring and rebounding.
Cotton has been sensational in these first four games which has largely allowed the Friars to survive without Council. He will once again be the best player on the floor in this matchup which gives Providence a big edge.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Providence 70, Fairfield 62
11/23 10:52:06 ET