Friars Battle All the Way Back but Come Up Short Against Kansas, 66-61

#4 Providence Friars 61 (27-6)

#1 Kansas Jayhawks 66 (31-6)

In their first trip to the Sweet Sixteen in 25 years, the Providence Friars came up just short against the last remaining number 1 seed left in the NCAA Tournament, the Kansas Jayhawks. The Friars couldn’t buy a bucket in the first half, shooting 1/13 from three and just 7/35 from the field en route to a 13-point halftime deficit. Their 17 first half points were the lowest ever in an NCAA Tournament game and lowest since they scored 25 points in the first half in their First Four game against Dayton in 2015. Some of the struggles were just missed shots but a lot of it also had to do with Kansas’ defense which recorded 11 blocks (7 in the first 15 minutes of play).

Providence responded in the second half, going on a run and finally taking the lead 48-47 with 5:49 to play in the second half. Unfortunately, the Jayhawks responded with their own mini-run that put the game just out of reach for a Friars legendary comeback to reach the Elite Eight.

This was the first ever meeting between Kansas and Providence and it is one that Friartown will not soon forget with the way this year’s team played their hearts out all season long. This scene of the team leaving the hotel on the way to the game is seriously awesome.

Game Notes:

  • Remy Martin was really the difference in this game, able to make individual plays that separated the two teams whenever things got close. Martin scored a game-high 23 points off the bench in just 27 minutes. With the Friars able to hold Ochai Agbaji to a season-low 5 points (only the 2nd time he was held in single digits), Martin was the reason that Kansas was able to never succumb to the second half runs from Providence.
  • Al Durham gave this game every single last bit of energy he had, finishing with 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. Durham started the game 1/7, cold just like everyone else on the team, but finished the rest of the game going 7/11, cementing his nickname as “The Closer.” Durham also played a team-high 39 minutes for the contest.
  • Stop me if you heard this one before, Noah Horchler hit massive threes down the stretch of a close game. Horchler scored 10 points and grabbed a team-high 8 boards. Horchler was 0/6 in the first half and started the game 1/9 from the field before hitting 3 of his last 5 shots (his last three was a forced double-teamed three at the end of the game). All of his misses in the first half seemed like they were half way down before rimming out but shooters keep shooting and he finally started to get hot when the team needed him to the most.
  • Ed Croswell was essential off the bench, closing the gap between the teams before half and single-handedly putting together stretches where he looked like the best player on the court (save for Martin).
  • Croswell had 9 points and 6 rebounds in 18 minutes of action. The most impressive part of his game was his 3/3 shooting from the line.
  • Big Nate Watson was in foul trouble for a large part of the game but managed to squeak out 8 points when he was able to get the ball down low. The Kansas bigs played Watson well and were able to get a couple blocks on some of his early posts down low.
  • A.J. Reeves started the game taking some tough, tough shots with defenders on top of him. I much prefer a catch-and-shoot Reeves rather than a dribble pull-up Reeves. Reeves’ one made three came during the team’s big comeback and I’ve always said, no matter how Reeves has played up 30-35 minutes through the game, there is no one I trust more taking a big three than him. It may be a while before another player gets that type of confidence from me at the end of a game.
  • Jared Bynum had a really rough night offensively, scoring just 2 points in 17 minutes. He appeared to be unsure of himself when opportunities presented themselves and it made his offensive game become a little hesitant when he was on the floor. He may have felt a lot of pressure to try and match what Remy Martin was doing and in doing so, may have taken himself out of his normal flow of the game.
  • I was really surprised to see Alyn Breed not get more minutes based on the struggles Bynum was having on the offensive end. Breed played just 2 minutes after playing extremely well over the last three games, even making the ever elusive floater the other game.
  • Justin Minaya is an ELITE defender. I really hope he comes back next season but I don’t want to get my hopes up.
  • It was cool to see Andrew Fonts get in at the end of the game for his last ever game as a Friar.
  • The 27 wins on the season were the 2nd most in Friars history, one short of the 28 wins the team recorded in their 1973-1974 season (28-4).

”I thought our team all year played with a resolve and a resilience that was second to none in America. These kids…men…battled through a lot of adversity. I’m not gonna let our men’s heads be down. This was one hell of a season, and we got beat by a great team.”

– Ed Cooley

One thought on “Friars Battle All the Way Back but Come Up Short Against Kansas, 66-61

  1. Pingback: Al Durham Selected to the Midwest Region All-Tournament Team | The Morning Hangover

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