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Friars vs. Wildcats: Revenge or Repeat?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Game time: 7:00 pm
Location: Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, RI
Television: Fox Sports 1
Radio: WEEI 103.7 FM

Before Sunday night's loss to Creighton, the Villanova Wildcats had lost just one game since they handed the Friars their worst loss of the season on January 5th.  Ranked 9th in the latest Associated Press poll, Tuesday's contest at the Dunk gives PC a huge opportunity to improve their resume for the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.

The Last Meeting:

In their first matchup of the season Villanova ran Providence out of the building, defeating the Friars 91-61 at The Pavilion.  The Wildcats hopped on PC early, beginning the game with nine straight points and quickly extended that lead to 14 within the game's first five minutes.

This was a terrible matchup for Providence coming in, compounded by blazing hot shooting from beyond the arc for Villanova, as the Wildcats hit 14-of-25 from deep.  Villanova shot nearly 60% from the field and led by 30 for much of the second half against a dispirited Friar bunch.

The Wildcats got eight 3-pointers from their reserves, including 4-5 from Rice transfer Dylan Ennis. Like most of this season, PC's bench was nearly non-existent as a mere four points were contributed from non-starters.

Bryce Cotton led the way for PC, scoring 25 points but the Wildcats proved to be too much for the then-reeling Friars.

Villanova saw four players score in double-figures, with JayVaughn Pinkston leading them all with 19 points.

What it all means:

Entering Tuesday night's game at the Dunk, Villanova will be coming off a 21-point pounding at the hands of Doug McDermott and the Creighton Blue Jays. Recently, Villanova has been included in many conversations regarding number 1 seeds in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.  If they want any shot at one of those, a loss against Providence is completely out of the question.

Villanova continues to be led by junior forward Pinkston, who was just named to the midseason Naismith Trophy list, along with Providence's Bryce Cotton. Jay Wright's team is currently 23rd in the country in scoring, averaging just over 80 points per game.  They score 79.8 points per game in conference play, which is tops in the Big East.

As good as a team like Villanova is, it is highly unlikely that they will be able to shoot as well as they did against the Friars on January 5th.  Yes, Villanova is one of the country's best teams this year, but let's not forget that PC beat this team twice last season. True, Villanova is much improved from last year, but all in all, they are mostly made up of the same players from a year ago.

Villanova holds an 8-2 record on the road this season but hasn't won in Providence since 2009. PC owns a 24-16 record against the Wildcats when playing at home.

The Key for PC:

As teams continue to focus on Cotton, it is going to be vitally important for other guys to step up. Carson Desrosiers showed that he has the ability to do so on Saturday, scoring 12 points in 26 minutes of play against DePaul. Kadeem Batts has been on and off all season but one player who is due for a big game is Tyler Harris.

Since the January 30th loss against Marquette, Harris has shot just 28% from the floor and in three of those games he shot a combined 3-for-25.  In PC's last meeting with Villanova, the N.C. State transfer managed just five points.  His poor shooting of late certainly isn't because he is incapable, we've seen Harris score in bunches before.  He's scored in double-figures in 19 of PC's 26 games.  It is tomorrow night where Harris will need to turn things around.  Alleviating Cotton from having to score on every possession is a huge benefit for Ed Cooley and if Harris can do that tomorrow night, PC has the chance to snag a huge home victory against the Wildcats.

Email Craig - craig.belhumeur@friarbasketball.com
Craig on Twitter - @Craig_Belhumeur


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