The Providence Friars defeated St. John’s led by the reigning Big East Coach of the Year, Mike Anderson by a score of 86-82. In a game where St. John’s was hoping to potentially revive their NCAA tournament dreams, Ed Cooley and the “luckiest team in America” shut it down in front of a hostile road crowd. “We love road wins!”, said Cooley to his guys after the game; and this one wasn’t pretty but it still counts in that win column.
Jared Bynum led the way for the Friars with 19 points off the bench. His star-studded performance included a plethora of 3-pointers as whatever he chucked up seemed to fall. Senior big men Nate Watson and Noah Horchler also contributed greatly with 16 and 14 respectively, hitting 5 shots each.
Providence was able to break St. John’s early press with a few quick buckets which included a sneaky lay-in from Justin Minaya and a wide-open three for Andrew Bynum that got their momentum flowing early. Providence got out to quick leads in the first half with the help of a 10-2 run followed by a 7-0 run which both caused Mike Anderson to call timeouts. The Friars also did a solid job of getting to the charity stripe en route to sinking 27 of their 33 attempted free throws.
After a strong showing on the offensive glass in the first half, St. John’s came out strong at the beginning of the second period with some big buckets to knot the game at 47. Hometown hero Posh Alexander hit his 20th point with 8:21 remaining in the second half. He finished with a double-double setting a new career-high 29 points. Senior forward Aaron Wheeler picked up a lot of the slack for the Johnnies as the Friar defense suffocated Julian Champagne all night long, leaving him with just 8 points.
With each team trading scoring bursts, we knew this one would go down to the wire and it did not disappoint. This game truly represented a classic Big East battle between longtime conference enemies. Providence improves their Big East record to 9-1 and moves to 19-2 overall as St. John’s suffers their first home loss of the season. Each team will tip-off against Georgetown in their next meetings as we draw closer to the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden.
P.S. The last time Providence started 19-2 they reached the Final Four (1972-73).