The headline is going to read that No. 11 Providence lost to DePaul, and for anyone that is even remotely aware of DePaul’s recent history as a basketball program, you’ll understand why that is an issue.
Let’s put it like this: No one is college basketball is happier about the struggles that St. John’s is having than the Blue Demons, because it means they’re no longer the running joke of the Big East.
Doesn’t mean they’ve actually gotten much better under Dave Leitao, which is why the 77-70 win that they just landed over the Friars is such a big deal.
It also comes with an asterisk: Ben Bentil injured his right ankle midway through the first half, tried to return to play on it and couldn’t. He sat on the bench for most of the second half as DePaul somehow managed to hold onto their lead despite doing everything they could to let Providence make a run. Bentil’s presence is critical for the Friars; he’s the leading scorer in the Big East, after all.
Cooley announced after the game that Bentil was undergoing x-rays on the ankle, but had no update as to the severity of the injury.
But his absence also drives home the fact that Providence has such a minuscule margin for error when it comes to their Big Two. They can’t afford to have Bentil or Kris Dunn get injured and miss a significant amount of time. They can barely afford to have one of them have an off-night given just how inconsistent the rest of their starting lineup has been.
On Tuesday night, Dunn finished 5-for-20 from the floor for just 14 points. He also missed two critical 1-and-1 front-ends down the stretch of the second half.
That would qualify as an off-night.
And when you combine an off-night for Dunn with an injured ankle for Bentil, this is what you get.
A loss to DePaul.