Providence is slowly but surely becoming a real pain for some teams in the Big East.
First, the Friars went and swept Villanova. Then, they brought the bats out at the Bradley Center. And on Wednesday night, Ed Cooley’s club made a statement by knocking off No. 17 Cincinnati, 54-50.
Kadeem Batts led the way for Providence, finishing with 25 points and nine boards as the only player in a slugfest that was able to get into anything remotely similar to a rhythm.
And that’s essentially how the Friars were able to win. They bogged down the Bearcat penetration, they stifled their pick-and-roll, and they made seemingly every shot that Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright were forced to take tough, contested pull-ups.
Unfortunately for Cincinnati, on the nights that teams are able to do this to them, they are going to struggle. They don’t have an interior scoring presence to take pressure off of their back court. They have two playmakers on the roster, three if you’re feeling generous about JaQuan Parker, and a bunch of defensive-minded athletic scrappers. They’re not going to get blown out.
Kilpatrick and Wright were 7-23 from the floor, finishing with 19 points, three assists and five turnovers tonight. Parker finished with 12 points and was the major reason the Bearcats made a 10-0 run late in the second half to cut a 47-34 lead to 47-44, but he didn’t do much of anything until the final five minutes of the game.
On the nights when that happens, the Bearcats are quite beatable.
Credit needs to be given to the Friars here, however. Cooley has this team playing well. They’ve now swept Villanova, won at Seton Hall and taken UConn to overtime. The only time they’ve lost by more than 10 i Big East play was an 18 point loss at Louisville in their Big East opener.
The Friars will compete this year.
They’re not longer a pushover.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.