Friar Basketball

Butler Locks Down Providence

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Friday night started with the shooting streak from hell and didn’t get much better for a Providence team looking to open 4-0 in Big East play for the first time in program history.

The Friars welcomed #6 Butler in a game that had all the makings of a special night. PC came into this one riding high, sporting a four game winning streak that included a pair of one point road victories over the past week that saved a season on the brink.

A 9-0 Butler start to open the game quieted a Dunkin Donuts Center crowd itching to burst after spending most of the night waiting for a 9pm tip. Providence missed its first 13 shots from the field — some good looks, many more difficult. From there, it was an uphill climb the rest of the night.

Butler won 70-58, and dominated in the most critical categories. The Bulldogs held PC to 31.7% shooting, made nearly 56% of their shots, owned a 44-26 rebounding advantage, and saw Providence make just 6-25 from beyond the 3-point arc. Butler scored 36 points in the paint (to PC’s 26). Their efficiency on both ends of the floor never allowed Providence, or the home crowd, to build any sort of momentum.

The Friars were limited to 18 first half points, trailed by 12 at the break, and could never make this a one possession game after halftime. Providence was able to put up 40 points in the second half, but Butler drained the clock offensively, while shooting nearly 60% in the final 20 minutes.

The 0-13 shooting start will be remembered as the downfall in this one, but in reality, Providence trailed 9-5 after finally getting on the scoreboard. That shooting slump started with Kalif Young on a dribble drive from beyond the 3-point line late in the shot clock and resulted in a running hook shot with the clock expiring. That wasn’t a good sign. In fact, it was a sign of things to come.

Providence shot 6-30 in the first half (2-13 from 3) and continually struggled to score, despite grabbing seven offensive rebounds. PC had one assist in the first half as a team.

There had to be questions about just how good this Butler team is to many in Friartown after Providence took three games from the Bulldogs a year ago — the final two in convincing fashion. But this is a group that now boasts wins over Minnesota, Missouri, Stanford, Ole Miss, Florida, Purdue, St. John’s, Creighton, and now a hot Friar team. Their only defeat was a one point loss to a fellow top ten team in Baylor.

Senior Kamar Baldwin is their star, while Sean McDermott (who played for Ed Cooley at the Pan Am Games before leaving early due to an injury) is shooting the lights out this season (53/84/43). Jordan Tucker is a Duke transfer who made several difficult shots last night, but the biggest difference is Butler’s newfound toughness in the paint. That can be attributed to Bryce Nze and Bryce Golden. That duo combined to shoot 10-15 from the field last night and grabbed 16 rebounds.

Alpha Diallo was PC’s most effective player, shooting 8-18 from the field en route to 21 points.

After the game, Ed Cooley said he felt his team was fatigued after traveling from a Midwestern trip that ended on Wednesday night in Milwaukee.

Regardless of the reason, Providence missed a great opportunity at a memorable night at the Dunk and an important win over a top 10 team.

The Friars return to action on Jan. 15 against St. John’s. That is shaping up to be an important one, as PC would love to take a 4-1 record with them on the road against Creighton and then Seton Hall. Their next home game to follow is a Saturday tilt against Villanova before Providence heads back out on the road in a rematch against Butler.

5 Comments

  1. GTJ

    January 11, 2020 at 2:05 pm

    Butler is very good, but they are by no means the sole or even the primary reason PC did not make shots. Despite the score, PC had better shots during the first half and I think more shots than Butler. Shots did not fall early and mentally they got frustrated and the drought continued. I am sure evry PC player on that floor knows they can and should beat Butler (despite the ranking noise). Looking forward to the rematch at Butler.

  2. B Hall

    January 11, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    So the reason for the poor showing is that the players were tired from traveling home from Marquette. What???. Conditioned athletes in their early twenties and teens were too tired.I thought They flew home, not walked. Stop with the flimsy excuses and fess up to the reality .

  3. Wally

    January 11, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    I was there, the crowd had a lot mere energy than the Friars.The team was flat and their shots flatter. When Pipkins shoots line drive 3’s ain’t a good sign. Never saw such an awful shooting night. So many shots were short, off the front of the rim. White, Reeves, Young,Watson were no shows! I guess this is going to be a Bi-polar season!!! Never know what we’re going to get!!! Awesome crowd though, the band was great! even the $12 beer was good. Friars NOT! But GOFRIARS!!!

  4. Irish Spectre

    January 11, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    I agree with B. Hall; even if there’s a grain of truth to Coach’s non-excuse excuse, he should let it lie.

    Besides the poor overall shooting, the Friars for the most part lost the battles underneath, and at both ends of the floor; how many put-back scores did Butler make??

    I’ve seen Diallo questioned by a number of fans, but he was the only one really who showed up last night, as he usually does.

    Butler played a very tough, high energy game, especially on defense (which might speak to Coach’s fatigue point, though he still shouldn’t voice it), but generally I think the Friars kept battling.

    Butler is very solid all around, but on balance the single biggest factor last night was the Friars very poor all-around shooting, inside and outside the arc, up and down the roster, with the exception of Diallo. It seemed like Pipkins didn’t get much time, which surprised me, due to the hole they were in for most of the game, and needing 3’s. I would’ve thought that Coach would’ve looked to him for a spark.

    On to St. John’s. Though it’s early still, the Friars don’t have a lot of losses to work with going forward. With only 15 games remaining as a certainty, they need to win 10 of ’em to get to 20 wins, a very tall order in the Big East.

  5. rayi

    January 11, 2020 at 11:55 pm

    The big men inside missing so many shots to start was the killer. They were just awful and that put pressure on rest of team. If they started making those that would have opened up better looks for 15 to 25 ft shots as defense would have collapsed inside more.