Friar Basketball

Providence Jumped on Georgetown Early, Never Looked Back

AJ Reeves USA Today USA Today

Providence played its best half of the season on Tuesday night, ringing in the New Year right with a 54-23 first half that saw the Friars make 10-18 from beyond the arc and limit Georgetown to 7-25 shooting. 

PC closed the non-conference portion of the schedule with a blowout win over Texas, and followed a similar formula in Tuesday’s 76-60 victory over the Hoyas. Providence led the Texas game 43-28 at the break after hitting 7-12 from deep. They fell apart offensively in the second half against Texas (10-32 from the field, 1-7 from 3), but built up enough of a lead so that it didn’t matter.

The Friars made nearly 65% of their shots in the first half of the Big East opener on Tuesday, but went just 8-21 in the second, missing all seven of their 3-point attempts. 

The second half woes were an emphasis early in Ed Cooley’s press conference, “Hopefully we can clean up our second half performances. This is back to back games in the second half where I don’t think we played the way we wanted to play. In order for us to be the team we want to be in the long run we have to do a better job executing in the second half.”

Regardless, Cooley had to be happy with how his group opened Big East play. Providence raced out to a 14-0 lead, sparked by Alpha Diallo. The senior forward knocked down a baseline jumper, hit from three, made a pair of free throws, and scored on a strong drive during the opening spurt. Diallo shot 5-6 from the field and scored 14 points in the opening half. He finished with an efficient 20 points (7-12 shooting, 2-4 from 3, 4-4 free throws) and eight boards. He also added four steals in 35 minutes. 

The lead expanded to 19-4 before long, with David Duke burying a 3-pointer and AJ Reeves finishing on a rare post-up opportunity. Both sophomores had big nights. 

Duke was everywhere, attacking the basket with force (4-6 shooting, 1-2 from 3), hitting the glass (six rebounds), and leading the team in assists (eight). Duke provided perhaps the highlight of the night, ranging high to block a shot in transition. 

 

The decision to post up Reeves early may have been in an effort to get him going from somewhere beyond the arc. Reeves had attempted just one shot out of a post up situation all season, but scored with relative ease inside. Later in the first half, PC found Reeves on a curl and he converted while being fouled in the paint. According to my numbers, that was Reeves’ first and-1 since prior to his foot injury last season (he had six in the first month last year). 

The and-1 came at the 2:43 mark of the first half, and led to a 3-point outburst from Reeves in the final two minutes in which he connected on a trio of 3-pointers. Getting him looks inside the arc appeared to get his outside shot going. Reeves’ hot shooting got the biggest rise of the night from a fanbase desperate to find a game changer from beyond the arc. That kind of flurry has been a rarity in Providence the past two seasons. 

 

PC did benefit from some bad Hoya luck. Mac McClung, Georgetown’s explosive sophomore guard, was sidelined with an eye injury, so a depleted roster was even shorter on Tuesday night. This allowed PC to focus its attention on the talented Omer Yurtseven, who took just four shots in the first half. 

Nate Watson went to work against Georgetown’s big men midway through the first half, scoring on three post up possessions inside. 

This was a dominant night for the Friars. They shot 54% from the field, held Georgetown to 37%, won the battle on the glass, outscored the Hoyas in the paint (30-18), and saw four players score in double figures. Luwane Pipkins was the fourth Friar to score in double digits, making 4-7 from the field and finishing with 14. There was an urgency to put this game away early in the absence of McClung, as evidenced by Cooley taking his jacket off a minute and a half into the game. 

Georgetown opened the game by making one of nine shots and turning the ball over five times in the first eight minutes. PC jumped out to leads of 22-4, 26-6, and 32-10 before Georgetown switched and went to a zone 13 minutes into the half. It didn’t matter — Emmitt Holt hit a 3-pointer on the first possession against the zone, and Diallo followed with a three of his own 25 seconds later. The Hoyas came into this game riding the momentum of a six game winning streak, but Providence played with assertiveness from the start. This was never a game.

6 Comments

  1. Wally

    January 1, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    Great win!!! GOFRIARS

  2. Carl

    January 1, 2020 at 7:33 pm

    Go get ’em in Chicago. Go Friars!

  3. Marty

    January 1, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    Still waiting for you guys put in a full 40 minute game. Fantastic 1st half, horrible 2nd half.

  4. Den O

    January 2, 2020 at 12:23 am

    Don’t want to be too negative after 2 nice wins, but let’s put things into perspective here. G’town was undermanned and the Friars were back to their inconsistent play in the 2nd half. Need to string a solid 40 minutes together on a consistent basis. Have a good road test against DePaul, let’s play a solid game and start league play 2-0. The ability is there. just need to see it more consistent basis.

  5. Wally

    January 2, 2020 at 10:17 pm

    I believe it’s going to happen. Pipkens is finally understanding his role. We saw a lot more ball movement. I’m waiting for Gantt to get more comfortable. He gets lost on defense and that’s one of his strengths. Gantt will be a beast!!! GOFRIARS!

  6. GJ

    January 3, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    Texas and GT can both make excuses but so could PC (e.g. injured Watson, Reeves & Pipkens woefully underachieving)but the fact is they both have high level talent and PC controlled both games from the outset. Psychological and emotional let downs in the 2nd half when you are blowing out a team is not a surprise for kids – let’s be honest, on our best days, our defense would lapse when we are up 20-30 points as well. These games can be the springboard for PC – I still have (not blind) faith!

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