Game Recap: Bryce Hopkins Drops 27 on #4 UConn’s Head to Defeat the Visiting Huskies 73-61

Providence Friars 73 (13-3)

#4 UConn Huskies 61 (14-2)

The UConn Huskies returned to The Dunk/AMP for the first time since 2013 and were met with a hungry Providence Friars team awaiting their long anticipated arrival. The Huskies, fresh off their first loss of the season at Xavier, traded punches with PC for the first half but the Friars were able to pull away with some timely backbreaking baskets in the second half and move to 5-0 in Big East conference play for the first time in their program’s history.

Bryce Hopkins led the way with 27 points and the Huskies had no answer to stop him on the defensive end. The Friars have now played two ranked opponents this season, the other being Marquette, and Hopkins has scored 27 points in each game. He appears to have a knack for being able to play his best basketball when the spotlight is the brightest.

Jared Bynum only played nine minutes as he was sidelines with a rib injury for the majority of the game but his teammates answered the call, especially Noah Locke, who scored a season-high 17 points, making a number of huge shots in big moments throughout the game. Ed Croswell notched a double-double (13 points, 13 rebounds) and Devin Carter continued his upward trajectory with 11 points of his own.

Game Notes:

  • I have so many thoughts on this game that I’m not exactly sure where I should start. I did make the trip down to Providence to catch my first Friars game of the year in person and even with the students on winter break, the atmosphere for the game was heightened with the Huskies finally getting back to play in downtown Providence.
  • Bryce Hopkins has officially moved himself to the top of the list for the Big East Player of the Year and into the National Player of the Year conversation.
  • Hopkins scored 27 points in a variety of ways and he did so on just 12 field goal attempts (6/12). Bryce was 2/2 from three and for whatever reason, Dan Hurley decided to give Freshman Alex Karaban the assignment of guarding him throughout the game. Karaban is a good player and a very good shooter but he’s also a Freshman and not in the game for his defensive prowess. Every single time Hopkins got the ball and Karaban was in front of him, he was licking his chops to take it right to him.
  • Hopkins either got to the rim or was fouled by a trailing Karaban or a helping UConn defender. He got to the line 15 times in the game and connected on 13/15. Hopkins is currently 9th in the country in free throw attempts this season and 11th in free throw makes, connecting on 78 of 105 attempts in 16 games, good for 6.56 attempts per game (24th in NCAA).
  • Noah Locke was stupendous, taking big time shots in big time spots, and making them.
  • Locke registered a season-high 17 points, shooting 6/11 from the floor and 3/6 from three. This is the advantage of bringing in a transfer with a ton of big game college experience. They aren’t scared or nervous under the bright lights as they’ve been in similar situations before. Locke was unafraid to pull the trigger any time he touched the ball and that turnaround jumper is still looking extra silky.
  • I’m also going to give Locke kudos on the defensive end as the UConn guards not named Jordan Hawkins were a combined 4 for 23 from the floor (Newton, Diarra, Alleyne, & Calcaterra). He worked his butt of on D and in playing the second most minutes (34) in any game this season, kept up the energy the whole time.
  • Ed Croswell was an absolute beast down low and Jackson does not want that smoke.
  • Croswell posted a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, his fourth double-double of the season and 2nd in his last 3 games. Of his 13 rebounds, 5 were of the offensive variety. Croswell is averaging 3.81 offensive rebounds per game which ranks him 9th in the entire country. A couple names ahead of him aren’t too shabby either: Oscar Tshiebwe, Zach Edey, & Armando Bacot. This block was a damn statement too.
  • Croswell was hard at work switching positions and bodying Adama Sanogo to deny any potential entry passes, thus limiting the effect that a player as good as Sanogo had in the game. The UConn guards just couldn’t seem to get any entry passes to Sanogo in the post and Croswell’s effort was a big reason why. Sanogo only attempted 9 field goals, just the 4th time this season that he was held in single-digit attempts. He is averaging just 8.4 ppg in games where he’s held under 10 field goal attempts. As a guy who is only averaging 3.1 free throw attempts per game, the way to keep him in check is to not let him get those touches in the paint in the first place.
  • On the other hand, Hurley has to find way to get the ball in Sanogo’s hands more often. That’s inexcusable.
  • I mentioned it after last game when he was already shooting at a career-high percentage but now it’s even more apparent, Croswell has vastly improved his free throw shooting. Croswell went 9/10 from the free throw line and is now shooting 68.6% from the line. In Big East play so far, Croswell has shot 28/37 from the charity stripe, good for a 75.7% mark thus far.
  • Maybe having The Closer Al Durham in the building rubbed off on him a little bit.
  • Devin Carter is just awesome to watch. He is such an Ed Cooley type of player that it’s crazy he was available in the transfer portal. To be able to get both Hopkins and Carter in one summer is crazy.
  • Carter scored 11 points with 4 rebounds, an assist, a block, and a steal. The dude is such a dog and is simply built for Big East basketball.
  • Carter has scored in double-figures in 13 of the last 14 games and is averaging 16.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.6 bpg, & 3.2 spg in Big East play. He is the definition of a stat filler. He does anything and everything to win a basketball game.
  • Corey Floyd Jr. was essential off the bench in this game. With Jared Bynum getting removed from the game early, Floyd was asked to step in and step up in the backcourt. Floyd played 11 minutes, his third highest total of the year and was a vital piece defensively for Providence.
  • The guy busted his ass the entire time he was on the court and his effort was noticed by every Friar fan watching the game.
  • Not to mention he hit this dagger three at the end of the first half with the shot clock expiring.
  • I feel so comfortable when Alyn Breed is on the court. He makes all the right plays and I’m never worried he’s going to miss a rotation or not pass it to the right person in the right spot. He truly is Mr. Reliable on this team.
  • He took down 6 rebounds, handed out 3 assists, and was another reason why the UConn guards got badly outplayed in this game. His 6 rebounds were the most he’s recorded in the last two seasons.
  • He only had one bucket but it was a pretty damn sweet bucket.
  • Clifton Moore’s defense was especially needed against the size of UConn’s frontcourt. I’m not sure I would play Sanogo and Donovan Clingan at the same time as much as they were on the floor together, but Moore and his height and ability to alter shots proved to be a big part of matching up with the Huskies twin towers.
  • Jayden Pierre had a pair of dimes in his 7 minutes of action but this one in transition was so pretty…
  • A note here and there for a couple UConn players.
  • Jordan Hawkins’ shot is so smooth. He’s not there yet but he’s going to be able to single-handedly take over games by next season.
  • Andre Jackson looked terrified to shoot the ball. Athleticism is nice but shooting the ball is nicer.
  • UConn needs to figure out their point guard situation if they want to make a run in March.
  • I wish Donovan Clingan wasn’t on UConn so I could enjoy watching him more. For a guy that’s 7’2” and a freaking Freshman, his mobility and shooting touch are really impressive.
  • Dan Hurley is such a crybaby.
  • Please, Please, Please let Hurly put Karaban on Hopkins when Providence plays at Gampel.

Some post-game stuff…

My favorite part of the celebrations are always the handing out of the belts.

Culture Matters and Bryce Hopkins fits the Friars Culture perfectly.

I’m giving the nod to Al in the celebration pic just because it’s good to see him back in Friartown.

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