On yet another night when their star player wasn’t at his best, the Providence Friars found a way to win comfortably.
Although Rodney Bullock struggled from the field, finishing with just eight points on 2-11 shooting, Emmitt Holt was there to pick up the slack. Holt finished with 18 points on 7-10 shooting, further solidifying himself as the interior threat Providence needs to succeed in their upcoming conference schedule.
Maine was paced by Wes Myers, who led the Black Bears with 13 points. Andrew Fleming chipped in with a double-double, tallying 12 points and 11 rebounds.
It was a game that the Friars never trailed in, and led by as much as 27. As a result, the Friars reached the 10-win plateau. That they have 10 wins isn’t surprising, but that they got to that mark in 12 games may shock many, especially considering that they were picked 9th in the Big East preseason poll.
Here are three things we learned (or confirmed) from the Friars’ sixth straight victory:
1) This Providence team is more balanced than last year’s
This was probably known long before tonight’s game, but another balanced offensive attack confirmed to fans, coaches, and players alike that Providence can attack you from many more angles than they did last season.
It’s a testament to Ed Cooley’s ability to develop players in the offseason. Bullock’s inconsistencies are less frequent, Jalen Lindsey has consistently shot the ball well, and Kyron Cartwright has established himself as one of the Big East’s better floor leaders. No one or two players can make up for the absence of Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, and the Friars are confirming that (in the best way possible) each and every game. The void left by few is now being filled by many, and it makes the Friars a real threat to play in their fourth straight NCAA Tournament.
2) Ryan Fazekas can still shoot it
Fazekas feels like a forgotten commodity on a team who suddenly has a variety of offensive threats. As he reminded all of Friartown on Tuesday night, however, Fazekas is still a long-distance sniper.
When Fazekas is on the court and firing with accuracy, he adds a huge presence. His 4-6 performance from deep was only a sneak peek of what he can do for Providence’s offense if he continues to shoot it well. Not only will he improve Providence’s three-point shooting, he’ll open up lanes for Bullock, Cartwright, Isaiah Jackson, and the other slashers that Cooley has in his arsenal. If Fazekas joins Lindsey as a legitimate three point threat, watch out.
3) Emmitt Holt can carry a team
It’s not the first time Holt has led the Friars in scoring this year, but tonight further established that he can be the focal point of the offense on nights when Bullock can’t get things going.
Holt didn’t showcase his three-point shooting on Tuesday, but he didn’t have to; he had his way around the rim in a variety of ways. When he’s active around the rim (10 rebounds tonight), he shows shades of what Ben Bentil was last year. While he isn’t Bentil yet, he isn’t expected to be; even a Bentil-lite performance can help Holt carry the Friars with the weapons he has around him.
Defensively, while he’s undersized, Holt (with help from Kalif Young) can hold down the middle on the Friars’ stout defense. His proficiency on both sides of the ball is nothing but a positive sign for Cooley and the Friars, and a sign that it’s not just Bullock who will keep opposing coaches up at night.
The Friars have Wednesday and Thursday off before traveling north to face rival Boston College on December 23 at 4 p.m.