Rapid reaction from Providence’s 76-66 victory over Seton Hall at the Dunkin Donuts Center. With the win the Friars improved to 9-8 in the Big East. It’s the first time since 2001 that PC has won seven of eight in Big East play.
1. Batts stars in Dunk finale. Providence paid tribute to Vincent Council on Senior Day, and he was more than solid with 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds, but it was another member of his recruiting class that stole the show.
Kadeem Batts and Council are the only members left of PC’s seven man recruiting haul of 2009. Batts redshirted his freshman season and has another year of eligibility left beyond this one, but he’s emerged into one of the best big men in the Big East as a junior. He cemented that point against the massive Eugene Teague, scoring 27 points and grabbing 12 rebounds to lead the way for the Friars.
He’s scored at least 20 points in four of the seven wins during this streak.
2. The turning point. It felt as though Providence was set to blow this one open on a number of occasions, but Seton Hall snuck their way to within five with 8:30 remaining. That’s when Batts kicked off a decisive 14-3 run by hitting a jump hook in which he was fouled. He scored six points during the run, a spurt that was capped with a Council layup with just over four minutes left to give Providence a 71-59 advantage.
3. It wasn’t perfect but… any win in March is big. Seton Hall shot 55% from the field in the first half and made eight 3 pointers (a number that troubled Ed Cooley afterwards), but PC clamped down in the second half, limiting the Pirates to just 31% shooting from the field.
Once again, Providence was dominant on the glass, doubling Seton Hall in offensive rebounds, 14-7. Batts and LaDontae Henton combined for eight offensive boards.
Both the crowd and the Friars seemed a bit lethargic (perhaps due to the 9pm start), but they were good enough to win their ninth Big East game.
4. Cotton keeps 3s coming. It was clear Kevin Willard was not going to let Bryce Cotton beat his team. The Hall had Cotton monitored well all night, but Cotton made them pay on the rare instances in which he got a good look. The junior guard finished with 15 points on 5-10 from the field.
His four 3 pointers gave him 12 in his last three games. He currently has the third highest total of 3 point field goals in a season in PC history, and could push to break Billy Donovan’s record.
5. Dunn continues to fill stat sheet. After a 12 rebound, five assist afternoon versus St. John’s on Saturday, Kris Dunn once again found a way to have an impact without scoring. He finished with just two points, but grabbed seven more rebounds and dished out seven assists – tying him with Council for tops in assists on the night.
6. Big time visitor in the house. Perhaps PC’s top target of 2014, Kimball Union power forward Abdul-Malik Abu was in attendance.
7. What it means. Saturday sets up to be the biggest game for Providence in years – and it couldn’t come in a better environment. The Friars will look to finish over .500 in the Big East for the first time since 2008-09 when they travel to Storrs to take on Connecticut in their regular season finale.
Gampel should be live as it marks not only UConn’s last game of the season (they are ineligible for postseason play due to their APR score), but their final game in the Big East.
At 19-9 and 9-7 in the Big East, Connecticut most likely would have been a tournament team this season. Combined with the fact that they are one of three schools remaining with what’s left of the Big East football programs after this latest conference realignment and emotions will be high on Saturday.
They won’t be the only emotional team this weekend, however. Providence is riding high and a road win over UConn would keep their growing NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
It’s setting up to be a special game.