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Friars vs. Bulldogs: Will (the) Butler Do It?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

 

Game time: Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 9:00 pm
Location: Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, RI
Television: Fox Sports 1
Radio: 103.7 WEEI

Having rattled off three wins in a row, things are looking up for Ed Cooley's Friars. Saturday's 81-68 thumping of #20 Creighton was not only Providence's third consecutive win, but their most complete performance of the season. On Tuesday night PC welcomes Butler, another Big East newcomer, to the Dunkin Donuts Center.

Here's what to watch for against Butler:

1. Butler's three-headed monster:  6'6" sophomore guard Kellen Dunham won't hesitate to pull the trigger from deep. He's taken a whopping 52 three point attempts in Butler's six Big East games -- numbers slightly inflated by the Bulldogs already having played four overtime games in conference play, most recently a 69-57 OT win over Marquette. The victory was their first in the Big East.  Dunham is shooing nearly 40% from three point range and he's 4th in the Big East in scoring in conference games. He's an 80% free throw shooter, and would be tops in the league in minutes played if not for PC's iron men Bryce Cotton and LaDontae Henton.

Kameron Woods is the Big East's leading rebounder, grabbing 10.3 in conference games. Woods has double figures in rebounds in four consecutive games and had a 16 point, 14 rebound effort in the win over Marquette.

6'6" forward Khyle Marshall does all of his damage inside the three point arc -- and he's done plenty of damage this season, scoring over 15 points per game on nearly 50% shooting. He scored 26 in a victory over Vanderbilt, 30 over Thanksgiving weekend against Washington State, and has taken double digit free throw attempts in four other games.

2. A deceiving record?  Butler is 11-7 overall and lost their first five Big East games, but they are hardly a pushover. Just ask Oklahoma State (69-67), LSU (70-68 in OT), Villanova (76-73 in OT), or Georgetown (70-67 in OT) who all narrowly edged out the Bulldogs.

Butler had three non-conference wins over high major programs (Vanderbilt, Washington State, Purdue), but they've yet to win a significant road game.

3. Cotton keeping it rolling:  Bryce Cotton was just named Big East Player of the Week after a near triple-double against St. John's on Thursday, and he's scored 20 points or more in every conference game this year. In conference games Cotton is averaging 22.8 points per game (2nd in the BE), 6.4 assists (1st), and over 43 minutes a night.

Cotton has scored at least 20 points in 10 of the last 11 games, and he's taking more than 10 free throw attempts a game in Big East play.

4. Batts recent hot streak:  The only thing to slow Kadeem Batts over the past three games has been foul trouble. He was all but taken out of the second half of Saturday's win over Creighton, picking up three fouls in the first nine minutes of the second half, but still ended up with 13 points and nine rebounds in just 23 minutes.

That performance followed up a 21 point effort against Georgetown and 17/9 at St. John's. Key for Batts has been his aggression inside, as he has taken 31 free throws over the past three games.

5. Locals returning home:  Rene Castro and Andrew Chrabascz return to New England, where they had tremendous success in the prep and AAU ranks over the past four season. The freshmen were teammates playing for a national championship team with BABC. Castro was one of the most explosive scorers in New England at Worcester Academy last year, and Chrabascz anchored Cushing Academy's NEPSAC AA championship team on the interior.

The 6'7" Chrabascz is a Rhode Island native (Portsmouth) who was been very efficient for a freshman (.568 from the field, .829 at the free throw line). He had a 14/6 night in the overtime loss to Georgetown, and should play a more significant role than Castro, who has been in and out of the lineup.

Email Kevin at kevin.farrahar@friarbasketball.com
Twitter: @KevinFarrahar

 

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