Game Recap: Noah Locke Steps Up in a Big Way as the Friars Hold Off St. John’s 83-80

Providence Friars 83 (14-3)

St. John’s Red Storm 80 (11-6)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the Friars are once again off to their best start of conference play in their program’s history. First it was when they were 4-0, then it was when they were 5-0, and now they are officially 6-0 to start Big East play. Following a back-and-forth first half of basketball, the Friars took a one-point deficit into the break but after coming out firing, could never extend their lead large enough to ever feel safe in the second half. Eventually, Providence just made enough winning plays to notch another one for the win column.

Noah Locke continues to step up in a big way with Jared Bynum sidelines with an abdominal injury. Locke scored a game high 20 points, drilling huge shots and displaying the long range that made him such an enticing player coming to Providence from the transfer portal. Devin Carter continues to play like an all-league player, scoring 19 points, and the rest of the Friars starting five (Ed Croswell, Bryce Hopkins, & Alyn Breed) all finished in double-digit scoring as well.

Game Notes:

  • Let’s start with the sharpshooting of Noah Locke. After starting the season off shooting a bit inconsistently while trying to find his place amongst all the new faces on the team, Locke has grown into his role and is now excelling and playing the best basketball he has all season.
  • Locke showed out on offense scoring a game-high & season-high 20 points on 7/11 shooting, including 5/8 from three.
  • During out of conference play, Locke shot 21/64 (32.8%) from three in 11 games. In Big East conference play, Locke is shooting (14/31) 45.2% from three through the first 6 games and has been on fire in the last three, going 10/17 (58.8%). His confidence is sky high and why shouldn’t it be? Locke is playing with some swagger and is completely unafraid to let it fly from anywhere when the ball is in his hands.
  • He also is still CRUSHING that midrange turnaround.
  • Even though Locke was deadly on offense, his defense has been equally as improved and noticeably so. Ed Cooley mentioned that if you can’t guard, it’s going to be hard to keep you on the floor and Noah Locke has answered the call. He seems to be a step quicker on all his rotations and doing so with much more active hands.
  • Locke has played 34 & 35 minutes in the two games with Bynum injured and he is a gigantic part of the reason why the Friars have been able to continue to play without their starting point guard.
  • Devin Carter is playing like an all-league player and doing so on both sides of the floor.
  • Why does it feel like I’ve seen this exact Devin Carter play in every game this season…
  • Carter finished the game with 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. He added a steal and block on the other end because that’s what he always does.
  • Carter continues to get to the line at an impressive rate, going 8/9 in this one. I know I always talk about Bryce Hopkins’ ability to get to the line, and rightfully so but Carter is also great and playing downhill and creating contact on his drives. He currently ranks 56th in the country with 5.71 attempts per game and is connecting on 70.3% of them. Just in case you were wondering, Hopkins ranks 23rd in the country at 6.65 attempts per game.
  • Carter has scored in double-figures in 9 of his last 10 games, scoring 8 points in the only game in single-digits versus Seton Hall while dealing with foul trouble.
  • Carter’s updated Big East Conference Stats:
    • 16.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.5 bpg, & 2.8 spg
  • For some reason, draft kings continues to let me bet on Devin Carter hitting over 0.5 threes in each game, despite the fact that he’s hit a three-pointer in every conference game so far. I’m not going to complain. He has improved his three-point shooting from 26.7% last season to 35.4% this year and is shooting even better since conference play began, connecting on 44.4% of his shots from deep (8/18).
  • Alyn Breed picked up right where Jared Bynum left off in the handful of games before he got hurt. Breed got the start and did some of everything on his way to 14 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and a pair of steals.
  • Mr. Reliable was steady all game for the Friars against a St. John’s team (mostly Posh Alexander) who loves to put pressure on the opposing team’s ball handlers.
  • Breeds’ 14 points were a season-high for the veteran guard and he helped close the game out going 5/6 from the line and hitting a big time jumper from the elbow. Breed is shooting a team-best 83.3% from the charity stripe on the year.
  • Bryce Hopkins had an off-game…by Bryce Hopkins standards. He’s been so freaking good this season that a 10 points, 7 rebound game with a pair of blocks is considered an off-game.
  • I can easily look past an off-shooting night from the floor (3/10) but the 4/8 from the line might’ve kept the Friars from a win against a slightly better team. That goes for the team as a whole since they shot 64.7% from the line on 34 attempts. Getting to the line a ton is great but you still have to make ’em.
  • He still has that spin-cycle working no matter what…
  • Ed Croswell: 14 points, 9 rebounds (3 offensive), 3 steals, & 1 block. This has become the norm for Big Ed this season.
  • Something that has not gotten nearly enough attention this year has been Ed’s ability to deny in the post. He works his ass off denying entry passes into the endless number of good bigs in the Big East (Sanogo, Soriano, Bates, etc.).
  • Jayden Pierre played extended minutes in relief with the Friars being shorthanded in the backcourt and played extremely well in doing so.
  • Pierre hit 3 of his 5 shots, recording 6 points, 2 rebounds, and assist, and a block. Not to mention this sweet ass finish against half the St. John’s team.
  • Providence had a rough day holding onto the ball, turning it over 16 times against the peskiness of the Red Storm but Pierre was the only player who played more than 4 minutes not to cough it up. As a Freshmen guard against that kind of pressure, that shows tremendous maturity.
  • Rafael Castro, Clifton Moore, and Corey Floyd Jr. played sparingly off the bench, only attempting 1 field amongst them, but none of the three recorded a point.
  • Joel Soriano would be my pick for the most improved player in the league. The guy is a double-double machine and has made a significant jump from last year when he wasn’t much more than an afterthought in a game plan against St. John’s.
  • Can you imagine the kind of player that Posh Alexander could have turned into if he played on a different team during his college career? The amount of positive skills that guy has and his passion for defense are things that could have helped almost any team in the country. I know it’s mostly because I’m a Friars fan but Ed Cooley would’ve helped him reach an entire other level in his game.
  • It’s crazy to me that O’Mar Stanley only plays 13 minutes a game when he shoots nearly 70% from the field. He definitely has to work on not fouling as much and improving his free throw shooting but he should still be on the court more.
  • I think they should add a new award to the end of the season conference awards: Best Transfer Player. There are so many players that are switching teams each season now that are having an enormous impact on their new squads. With the new state of college basketball, I think it makes sense to add it. I’m going to in my end of the season awards anyway. My top 5 in the Big East as of right now are…
    • 1) Bryce Hopkins (PC)
    • 2) Souley Boom (Xavier)
    • 3) Devin Carter (PC)
    • 4) Baylor Scheierman (Creighton)
    • 5) Manny Bates (Butler)
    • 6) Tristen Newton (UConn)
    • 7) Al-Amir Dawes (Seton Hall)
    • 8) Joey Calcaterra (UConn)
    • 9) Umoja Gibson
    • 10) Still not Andre Curbelo (St. John’s)
  • Al Durham was in attendance for the second game in a row, this time receiving his Big East Regular Season Championship ring and Sweet Sixteen ring…which is apparently a thing.
  • For the postgame celebration pic, I’m going to have to go with JB because that jacket is molten lava hot.
  • My real favorite postgame ritual is the handing out of the game belts though.

Up Next, the Friars have the week off before traveling to Creighton on Saturday to face the Blue Jays at 2 PM on FS1.

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