Anything can happen in the world of college basketball. No more was that more evident on Saturday afternoon than inside the BIG EAST Conference. On a day where Marquette's tumble continued and where The Hall defeated Georgetown on the road, the beasts from the east saved their biggest surprise for last.
Thanks to a stellar performance on the boards and four players in double figures, the Providence Friars trounced the No. 20 Creighton Bluejays to the tune of 81-68. The win was Providence's 13th, and the loss was Creighton's 3rd on the season.
Five Providence players finished in double figures on Saturday evening. Tyler Harris, Josh Fortune, Kadeem Batts, LaDontae Henton, and Bryce Carton finished with 10, 10, 13, 19, and 23 points respectively. Cotton most especially was a big factor, and was a crucial reason on both ends why the Friars were able to pull off the upset. Although Jahenns Manigat kept him in check for much of the first half, a surprising defensive switch led to Cotton flattening Austin Chatman in the second half. It was Harris who finished the game with an exclamation point in that of an emphatic dunk to put all five starters for the Friars in double figures.
While the Friars' offensive performance was noteworthy, perhaps even more outstanding was their work on the glass. They held an edge of 33-27 in the rebounding department, with an Offensive Rebounding% of 33.3 percent. They delivered a gut-punch to Creighton in the OR department, most especially in the 1st Half when the Bluejays could not muster even a single rebound on that side of the ball. Although Creighton did close the gap, the margin was not remotely close to the impact that Providence provided in the paint.
Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott finished with 21 points, but did not look himself for much of the contest. Neither did his teammates, whose showing was unremarkable at best. With their big matchup against Villanova looming on Monday, it appeared that Creighton may have been caught napping in The Renaissance City.
Creighton now can shift focus to Villanova, but questions will loom about their play on Saturday evening. As well they should. But, make no mistake, Providence thoroughly earned and deserved this win and could give them a much-needed boost in BIG EAST play.