Friar Basketball

Maliek White Catches Fire for Friars in MSG

Maliek White BET Fox Sports

“This kid is having the game of his life.”

— Fox Sports’ Bill Raftery on Maliek White

Providence’s junior guard picked a perfect time to have his best game as a Friar. White’s 19 point (8-11 shooting), five assist, three rebound, three steal night set the tone in PC’s 80-57 victory against Butler in the Big East Tournament on Wednesday night.

It’s hard to imagine, but this game was very much in doubt for much of the first half. Butler led by double figures early, and Providence made just two shots from the field in the game’s first ten minutes. The Friar veterans then made their mark.

While White was the story of the night, his classmate settled Providence down.

With eight minutes left in the first half, Providence trailed 19-12 — that’s when Alpha Diallo went to work.

He hit a short bank shot at the 7:15 mark and followed that up by finding Kalif Young for a dunk out of a post-up to cut Butler’s lead to 19-16. Diallo was then fouled on a mid-range jumper, and then finished an and-1 by drawing a foul on Butler star Kamar Baldwin in the post. The foul was Baldwin’s second and took him out of the game.

Twenty seconds later, Diallo found freshman guard David Duke for a straight-away 3 that Duke buried to give PC its first lead (23-21) since it was 2-0.

All of this came in a three minute span and set the stage for White’s explosion.

 

How hot did White get late in the first half? He made five field goals over the final 3:33 (his career high in field goals made in a game was six entering Wednesday).

White’s spurt included a layup on a backdoor cut, a leaner in traffic in the middle of Butler’s zone, and then a trio of 3-pointers in the final 1:33 of the half.

Providence hasn’t been a good screen and roll or pick and pop offense all year, but White is these best guard in those situations. Butler chose to play under the picks and they paid.

 

The second half led to perhaps Providence’s most crisp display of offensive of the season. The Friars shot 60% from the field and 55% from 3 over the final 20 minutes, with Duke scoring 11 in the second half, Diallo 10, and senior Isaiah Jackson eight.

Diallo shined in the Big East Tournament during Providence’s run to the finals a season ago, and had another big night back home in New York. He ended his night with 18 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Perhaps most significantly, Diallo shot an efficient 7-13 from the field and 2-3 from long range.

Duke shot 6-8 from the field and made both 3-pointers he attempted. He was a team best +24 on the night. Both Duke and Diallo physically punished Baldwin when he covered either in the paint. Butler’s leading scorer finished with just eight points in a foul plagued evening.

On the night, Providence made 11 3-pointers, with five different players connecting from long range (freshman AJ Reeves hit their first early). PC shot 11-23 from deep, despite starting just 1-8.

While the stats won’t do him justice, junior Kalif Young was a solid presence in the paint off of the bench. The junior center was key in slowing Butler big men Nate Fowler and Joey Brunk on the interior.

Providence next faces Villanova in what feels like an annual meeting in the Garden between the two Big East originals. PC is just 1-9 all time against Villanova in the Big East Tournament, which includes last season’s overtime loss in the championship.

Twitter: @Kevin_Farrahar

 

One Comment

  1. Derec Lamendola

    March 14, 2019 at 3:36 am

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