The Providence Friars have returned to the win column.
After tripping up against the Marquette Golden Eagles on Sunday, the Friars clipped the Xavier Musketeers 64-62 to pick up a much-needed road victory. The win puts them at 12-7 on the year and 2-4 in the Big East, avoiding a disastrous 1-5 start to the conference season. Xavier, meanwhile, drops to 11-9 and 3-4 in conference play as a result of this defeat.
Providence found themselves up 33-26 at the end of the first half. The Musketeers could only muster up six points in the final 10 minutes of the first half, and this certainly put them at a disadvantage. They however erupted for 19 after the first 10 minutes of the second half, which helped them get more neck and neck with the Friars. However, Providence soon built up a 62-52 lead with 3:44 to play. Although Xavier would outscore them 10-2 the rest of the way, that two-point differential held strong enough for them to get the win. Paul Scruggs went up for a bucket at the buzzer but it couldn’t fall, and Drew Edwards corralled the rebound to secure the win.
Leading the way for Providence was Isaiah Jackson. Jackson scored 13 points, a team-high, and was a perfect 5-for-5 on 2-point tries. He collected a 3-pointer also, had four rebounds, two assists and a steal with no turnovers in 29 minutes. This was Jackson’s first double figure output since January 12 against the Georgetown Hoyas. It’s the 10th time he’s hit double figures this season, as well, as he scored more points Wednesday night (13) than he did in his last two games combined (12).
Providence also got double figures from Alpha Diallo and Nate Watson, who each scored 11 points. Diallo got there on 13 shots and was an inefficient 4-for-13 from the floor. Diallo still managed to make an impact elsewhere, however The junior forward picked up six rebounds, five assists, five steals, one block and merely one turnover in 36 minutes. Watson put up his 11 points on a 4-for-7 mark from the floor and 3-for-3 from the FT line. He had six rebounds and three blocks, and committed no turnovers in 24 minutes.
Xavier’s demise was mostly in the turnover department. They committed 18 of them and had a TO% of a staggering 281 percent. That won’t play, especially in games decided by such a thin margins like this one. The aforementioned Scruggs and Quentin Goodin unfortunately were at the forefront in the TO department. They committed 11 of these 18 turnovers themselves: Goodin with six, Scruggs with five. Naji Marshall had three while Tyrique Jones and Kyle Castlin each had two.
The five turnovers for Scruggs washed away what was an otherwise solid outing. He scored 14 points, leading the way in the game, had four assists, three steals and two boards. Jones had 12 points, seven rebounds and one assist while Zach Hankins matched his effort in points and had three boards, two blocks and a steal.
Providence will now aim to climb out of the sub-.500 mark as they march on. They have the DePaul Blue Demons twice in the next there games, with a game against the Seton Hall Pirates sandwiched in between. The Pirates’ stock is declining and they do have two shots at picking off the Blue Demons, so it will be fascinating to see if they can dig themselves out of the hole. A.J. Reeves could be on the way, which will certainly help them in spades.
Xavier, meanwhile, has lost two in a row to Providence and the Villanova Wildcats beforehand. It doesn’t get any easier, as Markus Howard and Marquette come to town on Saturday.