Providence College Friars (22-9) 90
St. John's Red Storm (8-23) 76
The Providence College Friars all but assured themselves of their third straight NCAA tournament appearance by taking care of business and beating up on the Big East cellar dweller St. John's Red Storm at Madison Square Garden.
The Friars got an appetizer under the bright lights of New York City in preparation with what should be a stellar Big East Tournament next week. Xavier, Villanova, and Seton Hall all look like NCAA tournament threats and there are going to be no easy outs come next week (except maybe St. John's, but they do get the advantage of a somewhat home crowd).
- Welcome back, postseason Jalen Lindsey. Good to see you.
- In last year's Big East tournament, Jalen Lindsey looked like he was finally putting everything together and realizing some of his potential after dealing with a lingering ankle injury for the meat of the regular season. In the infamous semi-final game against Villanova (still makes me angry thinking about that shit foul call on Bentil at the end of the game), Lindsey played 17 minutes, scoring 9 points and going 3-5 from three. He carried that over in the NCAA tournament game against Dayton, playing 39 (!) minutes and scoring 12 points on 4-8 from three. He looked primed to carry that shooting threat over to this season.
- Lindsey came out firing today. I always say that if Jalen hits his first shot, he's a completely different player. He shot seems to thrive based on confidence.
- In the first half alone, Lindsey set a career-high in points, scoring 18 points on 7-8 shooting and 4-5 from three (his previous high was 15 last year against FSU. He just needs to see the first one go through and he believes that every shot after that is going in too.
- Not a bad 1st half shot chart if you ask me...
- When Lindsey's stroke is on point, it's a picture perfect shooting motion.
- Lindsey scored in double figures for the third straight game is looking like he's ready to be that third option for the team going into postseason play. He would be the perfect third option because he opens up the middle of the floor for Dunn to penetrate when he's draining threes.
- Jalen finished with a career-high 30 points (doubling his previous high) on 10-15 shooting, 6-9 from three, and hitting all four of his free throws. I can not say enough about how good he looked out there. Maybe he just needs the big stage to excel? He contributed 8 boards and continues to be an underrated rebounder with his athleticism.
- Ben Bentil also eclipsed the 20 points mark for the 19th time this season. The 19th! He finished with 23 points and chipped in 10 rebounds for his 7th double-double of the year. He may have fallen in love with the three today as the Friars as a team were shooting especially well from deep. The Friars ended the game 13-31 (41.9%) from distance and Bentil clocked in with a 4-10 showing. I'll definitely take 40% from three every game of the year, but I like when he uses the threat of a shot to take it to the hole and get to the line.
- Kris Dunn had a very quiet first half, only attempting one shot in the first 20 minutes, but that had a a lot to do with Lindsey going crazy. Dunn did the right thing and didn't try and force shots just because he felt like he needed to shoot. He let the game come to him and had some impressive dunks in the 2nd frame.
- Dunn finished with a double-double, going an efficient 5-7 from the floor for 13 points and handing out 11 assists. Kris tossed in 4 rebounds and 2 steals...as he usually does.
- The rest of the team played well but no one really stood out about the today, which is completely fine with me when they play as a team like they did. Team basketball is what I like.
- Rodney Bullock - 6 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals
- Junior Lomomba - 3 points, 4 rebounds
- Kyron Cartwright - 7 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal
- Ryan Fazekas - 6 points, 1 assist, 1 steal
- The other thing that I love out of this Friars team...there's no quit in them. They never quit on plays and are always hustling. You don't see these guys take plays off on defense. That's the mark of effort, work ethic, and good coaching.
- Providence forced St. John's into 14 turnovers and won the rebound battle 40-35.
- Free throw shooting played a underrated big part in winning comfortably. Providence was a solid 15-20 (75%) from the line, while the Red Storm were just 8-17 (47.1%). If St. John's was to just match PC percentage-wise in FTs, then this would have been a single-digit game.
- Over the last couple of games, it looks like teams have tried to figure out how to stop Ben Bentil by throwing automatic double-teams at him whenever he touches the ball and trying to make other guys step up and knock down shot/make plays as the defense rotates after Bentil gives it up. It's definitely making Bentil work harder for his points but he seems to be doing well knowing that it's going to be be coming whenever he gets a pass. I'd love to see the stats on our shooting percentages once Bentil passes it out of those double-teams to get a real gage on how the team is playing offensively with those new defensive schemes.
- One thing that takes those out of the equation...fast breaks.
- Providence clinched the 4-seed in the Big East tournament and with how the rest of the weekend shook out, will take on Butler on Thursday, a team that PC swept in the regular season. I like how we match up against the Bulldogs but Butler is going to be geared up since they're sitting on the Bubble right now and win's in the Big East Tournament could send them to the NCAAs.