First and foremost, I’d like to preface this article from a fan’s perspective. The Providence Friars are now 20-2 on the season, and the date is February 6th, 2022. The most recent time this team has even seen a 20-win season was during the 2017-2018 campaign, when Kyron Cartwright led the Friars to the BIG EAST Tournament championship game. And even then, it took the Friars until the BIG EAST Tournament quarterfinals (March 8th, 2018) to even reach win number twenty – in an overtime thriller against Creighton, mind you.
That season saw the Friars go 21-14 overall, with a first-round NCAA tournament exit at the hands of Texas A&M. The ensuing three seasons saw this program go 18-16 in 2018-2019, 19-12 in 2019-2020 (although, COVID prevented us from witnessing what likely would have been another 20-win season), and most recently, 13-13 in 2020-2021.
So, I think I can speak for all of the Friar Faithful when I say, that to see this program reach 20 wins, before the Super Bowl has even been played, is really something special. Ed Cooley is doing one hell of a job with this senior-led group and its really showing on the court. Take a deep breathe, Friar Faithful, and enjoy this moment.
Okay, now to the game. Through the first twenty-minutes of play, I really thought that we were going to run the same script that we have been for the past three games. Tight, ugly, physical, rock fights that end up with a Friars’ win decided by 5-points or fewer.
At halftime, Providence was down 3-points to the Hoyas, who had dropped their last 10-games leading into this one. At one point in the first half, I even envisioned the worst-case scenario, with the headlines reading: “Georgetown, winless in conference play, knocks off the conference-leading Friars.” Then, the second half started, and the momentum of the game quickly shifted.
The Friars opened the second half with a different mentality, and this started by feeding Nate Watson. As has every team that the Friars have faced this season, Georgetown was throwing multiple bodies into the paint whenever Watson touched the ball. This made it extremely difficult for the big man to get going, and the result was four first-half points, with two of them coming from the free throw line. To start the second half, Ed Cooley called Watson’s number multiple times on offense, and the big man quickly doubled his points to eight.
This, of course, called more attention to the fifth-year big man, who on one play was quadruple teamed by the Hoyas. As most basketball fans know, however, when you clog the paint defensively, you take the risk of leaving guys open on the perimeter. Enter Jared Bynum.
As I’m sure everyone who’s reading this now already knows, Bynum went off in the second half en-route to a career night. The 5’10” Maryland-native poured in 32-points on a red hot 11-for-15 shooting performance, including 7-for-8 from beyond the arc. What was most exciting about Bynum’s performance, perhaps, is the consistency and the range from which he was hitting threes. These weren’t your typical “half-a-step behind the three-point line” type of shots – Bynum was draining from well into NBA range. In fact, Bynum put the exclamation point on this one by heaving a late shot clock three from the Georgetown bulldog logo near mid court with less than two minutes to play. In the post-game presser, Bynum said that the basket was the size of the ocean for him today. And man, did it show.
Bynum was joined in double-figures by Watson (10-points), Justin Minaya (10-points, 7-rebounds) and Noah Horchler (10-points, 11-rebounds) – who notched his seventh double-double of the season. Horchler now leads the conference in rebounds (8.4 per game), and continues to fly under the radar as one of the Friars’ most valuable players.
Ed Cooley certainly has to be happy with the way his group is playing. It’s not very often that on a night where you have a player put up 32-points, that another player notches his seventh double-double, and yet isn’t in the spotlight. And I think that speaks to the overall profile of this team. There are no egos, no ulterior motives, and most importantly, everyone plays with the same common goal: to win.
The Friars will get six days off before returning to action against DePaul this Saturday, February 12th, at 6:30PM. You can catch the game on FS1 or the FOX Sports App.