Heading into today's meeting at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence. The Friars were looking to hopefully avoid the slow start that they had against Butler on New Year's Eve, while the Red Storm were seeking their first Big East win and to build up more confidence in conference play.
After a a full 40 though it was all Providence for the most part as Ed Cooley's club closed out the game with an 83-65 victory.
Although it was a rout, PC did start the game off slow as they found themselves down seven points to St. John's early. Despite the slow start, the Friars were able to keep the tempo up thanks in part to play of Kyron Cartwright who had the hot hand in the first half to keep Providence afloat. Cartwright finished the game with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
While Cartwright got hot in the first half, it would be Providence's 'Big Three' of Rodney Bullock, Ben Bentil, and Kris Dunn that would carry them, especially Dunn who would finish today with a game-leading marks in points with 26 and assists with 6. Joining him, Bentil finished today with 20 points and Bullock had 13 points respectively. Bentil and Dunn both finished tied for the game-leading mark in rebounds with nine each.
As a team the Friars shot 49 percent from all areas of the floor, 39 percent from 3-point range, and 69 percent from the foul line.They also won the battle on the boards today collecting 43 total rebounds to St. John's mark of 34.
Whereas Providence flourished, St. John's hung tight but could not keep to the beat of the game. They played a tough first half, keeping the Friars at bay but come the second half were out classed on the floor, along with reeling under serious foul troubles.
After the game, Chris Mullin would remark how he liked how his team battled today against the Friars. He would also mention how it is still a work in progress for the Johnnies as they mix and matched in the second half.
The leading scorer for the Johnnies was Yankuba Sima who finished the day with 14 points, he would also finish with the team leading mark in rebounds with eight. Rounding it all out, Felix Balamou and Amir Alibegovic both had solid days as well with Balamou finishing with 11 points and Alibegovic finished with 10 points respectively. Absent again from the scorer's sheet was Federico Mussini who's had still been caught in a offensive rut.
While Providence rolls on, St. John's still has a lot of work to do, but are gaining the necessary experience to play in the Big East.
Afterwards, Friars' head coach Ed Cooley gave his praises for what the Johnnies did this game and their play so far. He also noted the his team needs to work on their starts to the game.
Then again for Providence it's not how you start, but how you finish and so far have been ending on a high note.