Friar Basketball

Breaking Down PC Over Arizona

Dunn Arizona

Before we get into Kris Dunn’s heroics over the final five minutes of Providence’s thrilling 69-65 victory over #11 Arizona, let’s recognize that the Friars wouldn’t have been in a position to pull this one out late if not for Dunn’s teammates.

If not for Ben Bentil scoring 15 of his 21 points in the first half PC might not have been able to keep the game close when both Dunn and Rodney Bullock sat for the final nine minutes with foul trouble. Providence trailed by four when Dunn took a seat, but went into halftime behind just 34-33 as their sophomore big man carried the offensive load early. This was Bentil’s second straight game with a monster first half. He scored 17 against Evansville on Thursday night when PC needed a lift after a sluggish start.

If not for Ryan Fazekas’s timely shooting PC might not have been in position to pull this one out. Fazekas canned a big three pointer immediately after Dunn’s second foul to pull PC to within one, and topped that with an even bigger three late in the game.

With Dunn on the bench with four fouls and everyone back home in Providence yelling for Cooley to get him back in the game as Arizona pulled ahead by seven, Bentil found Fazekas for a desperately needed three at the 6:07 mark that snapped a 7-0 Arizona run and brought Providence to within four, 58-54.

If not for timely drives by the rapidly improving Junior Lomomba, a monster offensive rebound and put back by Rodney Bullock, and a defense that forced 21 Wildcat turnovers, PC wouldn’t have put Dunn in position to do what he did late.

And what, precisely, did Dunn do in the closing minutes? A little bit of everything in showing once again why he’s the best guard in the country.

After a Bentil offensive foul, Dunn made his return at at the 5:15 mark with the Friars trailing by four.

First Dunn showed off his drive and dish game. He drew three defenders and found Bentil for a layup on a lob to make it 58-56 with 4:31 to go.

On the ensuing possession Cooley had Dunn playing off of the ball. Lomomba brought it up the court and Dunn drew a foul on his drive. He made 1-2 at the line to pull PC to within one with under four minutes on the clock.

Dunn showed his rebounding ability next. Much of what makes Dunn so valuable, especially on such a small team, is his ability to not only help on the glass from the point guard position, but control it. What makes him so dangerous is how quickly he turns those rebounds into offense.

At the 3:40 mark Dunn snagged a one-handed board, flew up the court and found Bentil once again for a dunk to push Providence ahead 59-58.

PC looked to be in trouble a minute later after Gabe York connected on a three pointer to give Arizona a four point advantage. Dunn walked the ball up the court, motioned for his team to relax and proceeded to score over three men on a difficult drive. Leadership and ability in one play.

Arizona fumbled away their next possession. Dunn collected the loose ball, got fouled, and made both free throws to tie it with two minutes to play.

After another Arizona turnover Dunn was once again off of the ball to start the possession. Lomomba brought it up, found him outside of the three point line where PC cleared the entire right side of the floor for Dunn to go to work. The result was a quick step back jumper to give Providence a 65-63 lead.

After Ryan Anderson (a thorn all night with 27 and 12) made a pair of free throws to tie it, Dunn once again went to work. This time it was a beauty of a fadeaway off of a spin move that was set up off of a screen and roll with Bentil. Great footwork and a clutch jumper.

PC closed it out when Bentil came up with a steal and found Dunn, who used his blazing speed to beat everyone down the floor and flushed it home for the emphatic finish — finish of a great play, finish of a great run, and the finish of Arizona.

And with that Providence is now 6-0 and takes on perhaps the best team in the country on Sunday night in Michigan State.

The Friars pulled this one out late, but make no mistake, they were the better team throughout Friday night. Ed Cooley’s group fought through the adversity of playing without their top two scorers for most of the night, survived getting hammered on the glass, and made all of the necessary plays over the game’s final five minutes.

Twitter: @Kevin_Farrahar


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