Providence Friars 59 (8-4)
Houston Cougars 70 (10-2)
The Friars fell to Houston in their second match up ever (first was in 1965) at Mohegan Sun Arena for the Hall of Fame Holiday Classic. The Friars are familiar with the confines of Mohegan Sun having beaten UConn in a charity exhibition at the beginning of this season and previously beating the likes of Florida State and Notre Dame over the past couple of years. They will also be returning to Mohegan Sun next year for the 2018 Hall of Fame Classic with fellow programs George Washington, South Carolina, and Michigan.
Ed Cooley has dubbed Mohegan Sun as “Friartown South” and the crowd for the Houston game was filled to the brim with Friars fans. Unfortunately, that same energy didn’t translate to the court for PC. The Cougars led by as much as 21 points in the second half and controlled the game for the majority of the contest. Rodney Bullock was the only Friar who looked engaged and really their only offensive option, scoring 24 of the Friars 59 points, accounting for 41% of the team’s point total.
The guard-heavy Houston was led by Rob Gray (24), Galen Robinson Jr. (12), and Corey Davis Jr. (10).
- We’ll start with the few bright spots for the Friars.
- Rodney Bullock was very aggressive on offense, scoring a team-high 24 on 10-23 shooting from the field. Bullock looked locked in on the offense end of the floor and was basically the Friars entire offensive scheme.
- Rodney also took down a team-high 8 rebounds in the game and played solid defense against the Houston bigs. the starting frontcourt for Houston (Devin Davis & Breaon Brady) were a combined 1-8 for 4 points.
- Isaiah Jackson scored 10 points on 3-6 shooting and with Alpha Diallo’s injury, has taken advantage of his increased minutes. Jackson is averaging 10.7 ppg over the last 3 games while shooting 50% from the floor and 50% from three.
- Jalen Lindsey continued to extend his made three-point game streak, going 3-6 from deep. Lindsey has now made a three-point basket in 37 games in a row, 28 of those games with multiple threes made.
- Lindsey finished 2nd on the team with 11 points, although he was only 3-9 from the field on the night. If the Friars are going to play zone (which I don’t really think they should), then I do like Lindsey in one of the top slots with his length. He has also looked a step slow laterally this year when guarding guys 1-on-1 so the zone probably helps him with that as well.
- Makai Ashton-Langford got the start in the game at the point but never looked comfortable while being the main ball-handler in the game. MAL was 1-7 from the floor, including 0-3 from three-point range and finished with 3 turnovers to 2 assists. He looks completely hesitant when pulling the trigger from distance and is now shooting just 14.3% from three-point range on the season. Once we get into Big East play, I’m going to guess that teams are going to back off of him and make him shoot, especially since attacking the rim is the biggest strength of his offensive game.
- MAL was 4-6 from the line, actually increasing his foul shooting percentage to 48.9% on the season. Those two numbers need to both improve dramatically over the course of the rest of the season, even if it is just to mediocre levels.
- Nate Watson wasn’t much of a factor in the game as the team didn’t really go to him in the post. Over 21 minutes, Nate only took 3 shots, his second lowest total on the season, which is especially noticeable because the 21 minutes were the most he’s played in a game all year. The Friars need to get him more involved, especially if they are struggling to find points on offense.
- The bench was outscored 20-5 by Houston.
- Kalif Young does not lack effort in the least but the last couple of games have seen him with a case of stone hands. He also struggled from the line in the game, going just 1-4. Young has improved his free throw shooting by almost 20% this year to 56% but still needs to get better to see the floor in crucial times.
- Drew Edwards scored 2 points in 22 minutes of action.
- Kyron Cartwright and Alpha Diallo, who have both been recovering from injuries, both suited up for the game after assessing their respective ailments in warm-ups. The two of them both came off the bench for the Friars and they both looked extremely slow in their movements on the floor (especially Cartwright). I’m not sure why Cooley decided to play them at all, since they combined for only 2 field goal attempts (both by Diallo) in a combined 19 minutes of playing time.
- I’m being completely serious here in asking why Tom Planek didn’t get some action. The team once again appeared lacksidasical on the defensive end and never in any sort of rhythm on the offensive end. At least Planek gives you maximum effort at all time. I think he’s earned a look in a game like this.
- Hey Rob Gray, your haircut is ridiculous.
- The fact that he seemed to be scoring at will in the 2nd half infuriated me, soley based on his stupid haircut. In fairness, he’s a pretty good player.
- A couple pics from the game.
Up Next, the Friars finish the out-of-conference slate of games against Sacred Heart at the Dunkin Donuts Center on Friday, December 22nd at 6:30 PM. The game will be televised on FS1.