Feb 9, 2021 6:47 p.m. PST
The Providence Friars (9-10, 5-8 Big East), losers of three consecutive and only two wins in the new calendar year, are on Wednesday, February 10th , Host of the UConn Huskies (8-4, 5-4 Big East) Rhode Island. Tipping is set at 4 p.m. ET in the Alumni Hall.
Providence entered the 2020-21 campaign with pretty high expectations. The brothers, who finished third in the league behind Villanova and Creighton in the preseason poll, had reason to feel confident after a 19-12 season and the return of David Duke. But Ed Cooley’s Club disappointed. In the meantime, the Huskies should finish fourth in the Great East – and they are currently in fifth place.
The Huskies have been without the services of leading scorer James Bouknight for the last six games. The second guard is recovering from elbow surgery. UConn lost 3-3 in his absence. Junior Guards Tyrese Martin and RJ Cole have tried to fill the void by accumulating 11.7 and 11.0 points per game this season.
Sophomore guard Jalen Gaffney had a breakout game in an 80 -73 loss to Seton Hall Saturday. Gaffney reached a career height of 20 points and brought Dan Hurley’s team to four late in regulation. But that wasn’t intended – and UConn lost to the Pirates on their home pitch for the first time since 1997.
The Huskies are one of the better rebounding teams in the country, boasting a fifth-best offensive rebound percentage. UConn ranks second in the rebound margin (2.7) and the offensive rebound mark (12.1) on his return to the Great East.
This is a roster that is also keeping up defensively. Hurley’s boys lead the conference in goal defense, keeping the opponents at 64.8 points per game. The huskies are also second in thefts (7.3) and blocks (4.4). The brothers must be especially efficient if they are to expect to crack their current skid.
Providence was St. John’s recent casualty when the Red Storms resurrected. The brothers climbed to five at the start of the second half. But the Johnnies responded with a 20: 3 run and ultimately won 92: 81.
Paving the way for Cooley’s team is arguably the most impressive tandem at the conference in Watson and Duke. Watson scores an average of 17.9 points per game while Duke scores 17.5 points per night. The senior center was particularly impressive on Saturday against St. Johns, hitting a 30-point loss.
While UConn excels at rebounds, Providence has done rock well this season. The brothers have non-steal sales of just 7.6% – good for 14th place in the nation. Ball safety will be key for a team eager to beat their rival in New England for the first time since 2012. Providence wavered in 2021, having had a 2-7 mark in January and February so far. Cooley defended his program after losing 11 points to St. Johns.
« Here we are as the program. The program is great. The program is in good shape. We have had a tough year. We can’t elaborate on … the kids are frustrated, « said Ed Cooley after his third consecutive loss. @ ABC6 #GoFriars #PCBB pic.twitter.com/msKo9BrZQf
Wednesday’s game is the first meeting between the old conference rivals in almost eight years, when UConn defeated the brothers 63-59 on March 9, 2013 in Storrs. This competition was UConn’s last BIG EAST regular season game before moving to the American Sports Conference.
Historically, the Huskies have dominated this rivalry, scoring a 44-28 mark against the PC. The inequality isn’t that bad for games in Rhode Island, where the brothers set a 14-17 mark against the Huskies in Providence.
Another factor to watch out for is the coaching matchup: Cooley has a 5-1 mark in head-to-head matchups against teams trained by Hurley.
How will the slope affect Wednesday? While I love their restorative acumen, the huskies still miss Bouknight. In the meantime, the brothers are returning home to face an old rival with two elite players – one of whom has a career in production behind him. All of these factors led me to lead the brothers the way.
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and sports content developer. He has written and produced content for as long as he can remember, with names such as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo! Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.
Blair Johnson is a seasoned journalist and sports content developer. He has written and produced content for as long as he can remember, with names such as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo! Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.
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