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Providence upsets Xavier 81-72

The Friars take down the #5 team in the nation.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Providence Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday afternoon at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was a classic end-to-end Big East battle. The Xavier Musketeers came to Providence looking to extend their 10-game winning streak, but Ed Cooley and the Providence Friars had other ideas.

First Half

Providence got off to a sluggish start offensive start, but managed to wake up around the 16:00 mark thanks to a 7-0 run that took them into the first media timeout with a 12-10 lead. The run culminated with Jalen Lindsey with a shot fake and dribble to the hoop. No that was not a typo.

The Friars managed to push this stretch into a 17-6 run thanks to Kyron Cartwright and Rodney Bullock. Bullock finished the first half with 11 points. They were managing to find holes in Xavier’s 1-3-1, which had been an issue with Cooley’s teams in the past. Bluiett was pacing the Musketeers despite their struggles with the strong Providence defense. He had 8 of Xavier’s initial 16 points and would have 12 points in 18 first half minutes.

Providence’s lead reached 11 at the 5:47 mark as Xavier got caught in a 2:00 scoreless spell. They struggled to find any rhythm on the offensive end due to the Friars active hands on defense. This was without question the most energy we’ve seen from PC on the defensive end so far this season, which was vitally important as they sputtered on offense towards the end of the half.

Xavier then took advantage of a 4:00 scoreless span from Providence, where the Friars missed 8 straight shots to allow the Mustketeers to creep closer in the final minutes of the first frame. Providence entered the break with a 40-32 lead.

Chris Mack’s group dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Friars 26-16, but struggled to get JP Macura any good looks. He was just 2/7 FG in the first frame.

The Musketeers shot 35% in the first half compared to the Friars’ 46%. The Friars also forced 10 turnovers while giving up 4.

Second Half

Nate Watson grabbed two fouls in the first 90 seconds of the second half, landing him on the bench with only one more to give. The second foul was very questionable, but called nonetheless. Xavier took advantage and cut the deficit to three, followed by Bullock heading to the bench with three fouls.

The poor officiating continued to flow on both sides, as PC was in the bonus with 13 minutes remaining. I’m not one to blame officials for the outcome of games, but this one was poorly called on both sides. If you like ticky-tack calls, this one was for you.

Xavier continued to own the glass in the second frame to help counter their tough shooting night. In the first 10 minutes, they had 17 second chance points while the Friars had none. Watson’s foul trouble was hurting Providence with Bullock at the five. Xavier’s Kerem Kanter started to dominate inside, but Cooley rode with Young and Watson on the bench. With 6 minutes remaining in the game, 24 of Xavier’s 29 second half points were in the paint.

The Friars led 71-65 with 3:45 left and would keep up the pressure down to the wire. Providence would extend the lead to 8 with 90 seconds left. Xavier would push back, but it was too little too late, as Providence would hold on to win 81-72.

Game Notes

  • PC had 4 threes in the first ten minutes of today’s game. They had 5 vs Creighton and Marquette combined. They finished 9/22.
  • Xavier shot 44% from the field. Providence finished at a 46% clip.
  • Bluiett was held scoreless in the second half. He finished with 12.
  • PC had five players in double figures. Kyron Cartwright led the Friars with 19 points and 9 assists. Isaiah Jackson finished with 18 points and 6 rebounds alongside Bullock’s 17 and 6. Jalen Lindsey and Alpha Diallo rounded out the five with 12 and 11, respectively.
  • Providence was 20/22 from the charity stripe this afternoon.
  • JP Macura was held to 9 points in 35 minutes.
  • Kerem Kanter led the Musketeers with 24 points and 12 rebounds.