Game Recap: PC Friars Win First NCAA Game Since 1997 on Bullock Late Bucket

#9 Providence College Friars 70

#8 USC Trojans 69

Well, it was certainly worth it to stay up all night for this Providence.  It was pretty much the exact opposite outcome of having to labor through the Dayton game last year.  With just 1.3 seconds left in the game, Rodney Bullock was able to slip through a USC defense that was focused on Kris Dunn, and put in the game-winning layup on an inbounds pass from Drew Edwards under the hoop.  

And just like that, Providence College capped off an unbelievable first day of March Madness action, becoming the 7th lower-seeded team to win on day 1 of the NCAA tournament.  There were 5 lower-seeds last year that won on the first two days of the tournament combined.  The Friars won their first NCAA tournament game since 1997, snapping an almost 20-year drought in the Big Dance.

Game Notes:

  • Kris Dunn struggled with foul trouble, sitting for the final 8+ minutes at the end of the first half and totaling only 27 minutes in the game (he averages almost 34 minutes per game).
  • While Dunn’s shot was totally clicking overall, he was fire from three-point territory, draining 4 of 5.  Per usual, Dunn was clutch as hell down the stretch and played with an urgency that pushed the tempo in the second half.
  • Dunn’s final stat line looks roughly similar to what we’ve seen this year:
    • 16 points
    • 4 rebounds
    • 4 assists
    • 1 steal
  • Shots like this are what we’ve come to expect from Kris Dunn when things get down to the wire.  No matter how he’s been playing up until those last 5 minutes of the game, every Friar fan trusts him to come up big in big moments.
  • Big Ben Bentil, the other half of PC’s two-headed monster, lead the team in scoring with 19 points.  He was shaky from the floor overall, finishing 7-21 (and just 1-6 from three), but that had to do a lot with the defense only giving him jumpers all game.  
  • The Friars need to flash him to the middle of a zone and let him either hit a turnaround, drive to the rim (and get to the line), or distribute back out to a shooter.  It seemed like Providence never attacked the middle of the zone and just reversed the ball back and forth around the perimeter.  Our zone offense has struggled mightily with attacking the zone all season.
  • I still believe that Drew Edwards is great at attacking the zone.  I say it every single time we play against one, but I’m saying it again.  The dude attacks the seams.
  • It really hurt not having Ryan Fazekas to take some stress off of our zone offense and creating a viable threat from the outside.  Someone on twitter (@alexlefebvre10) said that he was out with back spasms (according to Fazekas’ dad’s Facebook page), so I’m hoping that it was just a one time thing that he can recover from.  We’re too thin to have players out this time of year.
  • How good was Rodney Bullock?  Really fucking good.
  • Bullock, along with Ben Bentil, played all 40 minutes of the game.
  • Bullock did a little bit of everything, and he did all of those things well.
  • Shooting?  Bullock went 6-11 from the field for 16 points.
  • Rebounding? Bullock had a game-high 10 rebounds, notching his 8th double-double of the season.  
  • OK, but how about defensively?  Oh, I’m glad you asked.  Well, Bullock also had a team-high pair of steals and a team-high pair of blocks.
  • Just an all-around great game from Rodney, and that was before making the game-winning shot.
  • Another high point of the game, was the play of Kyron Cartwright.  
  • Cartwright took the reigns of the offense while Kris sat with foul trouble in the first half and the Friars didn’t lose a beat.  In fact, his quickness actually had the Friars playing better against the zone during Dunn’s time on the pine at the end of the first half.
  • Cartwright seems to raise his game to another level when he has some personal feelings or connections that add to the importance of the game.  Does that make sense?  Cartwright, being from Compton, had relationships with a couple of players on the USC team.  I feel like when he has that mentality of proving himself in a game, that pushes him to another level.  He always seems to rise to the occasion when faced with something like that.  At one point, Cartwright and USC’s Malik Martin got into a jawing match after a dead ball that resulted in both players receiving technical fouls.
  • Cartwright was efficient offensively, shooting 3-5 for 10 points, in just 25 minutes.  He also handed out 6 assists to just 1 turnover, marking the 10th game this year where he has put up 6+ assists in a game.  Over his last 6 games, Cartwright is dishing out 5.7 assists per game and less than a turnover per contest (0.84).  Now, THAT is how to get it done.
  • I feel like Kyron has one of these types of plays every single game.  You can teach that stuff, pure instinct.
  • Junior Lomomba only played 16 minutes in this one which had more to do with the zone that they were facing than anything else.  
  • Jalen Lindsey cooled off on his hot shooting spree that he’s been on, connecting on only 1-6 from three-point range.  Keep shooting Jalen.  Shooters gotta shot.  That’s where not having Fazekas to swap with Jalen hurt us during the game.  When one of those two doesn’t seem to have it going from deep, swapping them for a couple of minutes can really take the pressure off of each of them.
  • If the Friars want a shot at taking down the number 1 seeded North Carolina Tar Heels, they have to tighten up on the defensive end.  USC shot 53.8% for the game and 46.2% from three.  The saving grace, as usually is when facing off against young teams, is that they struggled mightily from the free line, shooting 7-13 (53.8%), and missing the front-end of their 1-and-1’s down the stretch.
  • And of course, I had to finish it off with this.  What a play.  Great poise from both Edwards on the great inbounds pass and Bullock to finish.

  • Just something else to keep in mind about these Providence College Friars…Culture Matters.

Next Up, the Friars take on #1 North Carolina in Raleigh on Saturday Night at 9:40 PM.  The game will be on TBS.

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