Following a convincing win against crosstown rival Brown on Saturday night the Providence Friars welcome the NJIT Highlanders to the Dunkin' Donuts Center for the final game before heading West for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Providence is gearing up for their trip to California to participate in the Wooden Legacy Tournament but the Friars shouldn't be overlooking the Highlanders, the newest members of the Atlantic Sun conference. Providence and NJIT have met one other time with the Friars pulling out a 1-point win back in November 2012. NJIT is looking for their first win against a team from the Big East after going 0-3 a season ago. The Highlanders are 0-20 all-time versus the league.
1. Defending the 3
Jim Engles' squad was in the top 20% in the nation last season in both effective FG % (52.3%) and 3PT FG % (37.1%). Damon Lynn attempted the most 3-point field goals in the nation last season and he was tied for the second-most made. Through 4 games this season, Lynn is in the top 10 in 3-point attempts but he isn't making them at the same clip he did a season ago. That doesn't mean he isn't capable. The Friars are allowing opponents to shoot 37.8% from beyond the arc in their 3 games this season. A key to holding NJIT at bay will be defending the 3-point line.
2. Lindsey Looking to Back It Up
Jalen Lindsey had the best game of his Providence career on Saturday against Brown. He scored 14 points and grabbed 5 rebounds while shooting 6/7 from the field. Lindsey has been a bit of a lightning-rod among Friar fans due to his high recruiting ranking and lack of consistent performance during his freshman season. Lindsey dealt with mononucleosis, a badly broken/dislocated finger and an ankle sprain a season ago and was being counted on to take a big step forward this season for Ed Cooley. Unfortunately, Lindsey was held out of Providence's season-opener against Harvard due to a violation of team policy and Ryan Fazekas has stepped into Lindsey's starting spot and isn't showing signs of giving it back. If Lindsey keeps playing like he did against Brown he might force his way back into the starting lineup. He also has the advantage over Fazekas on the defensive end which means he is likely to be on the court in the end of close games.
3. Bullock Takes the Lead
Rodney Bullock has looked excellent in all 3 of Providence's games this season. You'd have to look under a very powerful microscope to find any rust on the redshirt sophomore's game after missing two straight seasons due to suspension and injury. Bullock broke out to lead the Friars in scoring against Brown with 24 points. He also grabbed 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. Bullock has been a force on the offensive end and I don't expect that will slow down. Bullock certainly benefits from Dunn's ability to create offense for his teammates but he also has a nose for the ball and grabs plenty of offensive rebounds -- 11 of his 22 rebounds have been offensive -- that lead to second chance points for the Friars. Look for Bullock to continue to be a matchup nightmare against an undersized NJIT frontline. I expect him to attack the rim more freely in this one.