Villanova evened their record for this, the longest road trip of this season, at 1-1 on Saturday with their 11 point win, 83-72, over Syracuse. Chances to conclude the road trip with another win were foiled as the Friars won a decisive, 83-68 victory over Villanova at the Dunkin Donuts Center in downtown Providence, RI. The Friars punched the Wildcats with a 6-0 run to start the game, then stretched that lead to nine, 34-25, going into halftime. Credit Providence for striking again early in the second half, taking a 7-4 run over the first four minutes that stretched the lead to 12, 41-29, before the 'Cats could regroup for their own run. Villanova could get no closer than seven (43-50 at the 10:11 mark), and once repelled, could not stop the Friars from pushing their lead back out to double digits, where it largely remained through the end of the game. Villanova's longest road trip for this season ended with on a 1-2 note.
Providence guard/forward Marshon Brooks led all scorers with 20 points despite shooting 4-15 from the field. Going 0-8 on three point attempts, the senior went 12-14 from the charity stripe. Four other Friars, sophomore guard Vincent Council (16), freshman guard Gerard Coleman (16), sophomore forward/center Kadeem Batts (11) and freshman Bryce Cotton (10) scored double digit points. Sophomore point guard Maalik Wayns paced the Wildcats with 18 points on 7-15 shooting (2-4 on three point attempts) and 2-3 from the line. Senior forward Antonio Pena notched a double-double, scoring 17 points while grabbing 15 rebounds.
The blogosphere registered a few post games, including "postgame -- Villanova 68 Providence 83" from the Nova Blog. The Friar blogosphere has a few early posts, including a quick recap with a few comments at projo.com (Providence Journal) authored by long-time Friar and Big East beat writer Kevin McNamara and an exuberant but brief recap with a picture of the court rushing) from Dave at the Friar Blog. The Athletic Department website posted the official boxscore and the AP wire story, "No. 8 Wildcats Surprised by Providence, 83-68". The breakdown by halves...
Forget the highlighting...paint it all red. Pace was the surprise. Providence likes to run, an element of the Friar program going back to (at least) Rick Pitino's days in Friartown. Villanova has proven to be very proficient at controlling high-possession games offensively, but has seen success lately with a lower possession, structured play offense. A 38 possession first half with Villanova leading would have been a good sign, but owning that many possessions along with a nine point deficit had to be a warning that things were not going well. Pushing the pace in the second half would be a necessary prerequisite to making a serious run at the Friars.
1. The two Coreys put up some stunningly bad numbers, going a combined 4-26 from the field, including 1-13 from beyond the arc. The transformation from a dead-eye three point shooting machine on Saturday to the pair who couldn't shoot straight is the type of inconsistent play expected from underclassmen, not seniors. A real headscratching performance at this point in their careers.
2. One of several paradoxes offered in the game was Villanova's domination on the boards. In the first half the 'Cats were able to hold the Friars to an anemic 14.8% rebounding rate. The Friars bounced back in the second half to grab a crucial 40% of their misses, necessary second chances (they were credited with 13 second chance points) that allowed them to hold Villanova at an arm's length through much of the second half. The overall rebounding rate for the Friars, 25%, looks very good for Villanova, but it masks that strong second half adjustment that brought more Friars to cover their offensive boards.
Records, Next Up...
Villanova's records drop to 17-3 overall and 5-2 in conference. After pulling even with the Panthers in conference play, the 'Cats drop back with the loss. Providence has a two game winning streak, both wins coming against Top 25 teams. The Friars are 13-8 overall, 2-6 in conference play. Villanova heads home to face Georgetown on Saturday (1/29), while Providence heads down to Newark, NJ to play Seton Hall on Sunday (1/30).