Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center – Providence, RI
How: Fox Sports 1/WEEI 103.7 FM
- Providence comes into this game having won 6 of their last 7 games including the impressive 5 game winning streak that included a double OT win against this Red Storm team on January 16th at Carnesseca Arena.
- St. John’s has won 4 of 5 including a dismantling of Marquette by 15 at MSG on Saturday.
- The Friars have won 14 of the last 18 contests between these two teams dating back to 2001.
- Providence and St. John’s have played every year since the 1969-1970 season.
- Bryce Cotton ranks 2nd (20.8 ppg) in the Big East in points per game and D’Angelo Harrison is 3rd (18.1 ppg).
- Chris Obekpa leads the Big East in blocks per game (3.5 bpg) and Carson Desrosiers is ranked 2nd (2.7 bpg).
- Watch this video from Red Storm Sports Blog of D’Angelo Harrison giving the state of the Johnnies heading to Providence
- The line opened at PC -4.5.
In conference games this season, St. John’s is last in the Big East in FT Rate on offense (29.0) , likely because they seem to shoot so many jumpshots and “tough 2’s”. Also, the Johnnies give up the highest % of offensive rebounds in the conference (33.8%). They are the best at Turnover rate (20.2%), Block % (17.6% – nearly double the national avg), and Steal % (10.8%) though.
On the flipside, in conference games this season, Providence is leading the Big East in FT Rate on offense (47.3). The Friar offense pulls down the highest % of offensive rebounds in the conference (34.8%) and has the best Block rate (6.4%) and FT % (74.9%) in the Big East.
In the last matchup between these two teams on January 16th in Queens, PC got out to a fast start and then let St. John’s back into the game as the first half wore on. Ultimately, this would be a gutty performance by the entire squad but especially the man, the myth, the legend – Bryce Cotton. Cotton played all 50 minutes of that game including sinking the game winner in the 2nd overtime. Kadeem Batts played one of his better games of the year. He and Cotton worked the pick and roll nicely. Batts did most of his work on offense from the free throw line where he went 11/12. Hopefully Batts gets back to being aggressive and taking it hard to the rim because if he has another rough game, PC could very easily let this crucial home win slip away. There isn’t a ton of margin for error at this point in the season. The Friars need to take care of business at home, especially when they are nearly 5 point favorites.
Last game the group of Cotton, Batts, Henton and Harris accounted for 73 of PC’s 84 points or 87% of the scoring. Fortune and Desrosiers were the only other Friars to even score. Fortune’s only bucket, despite playing all 50 minutes, came just over 1 minute into the 1st overtime to tie the game at 72 and Desrosiers scored his 8 points in the first 35 minutes of the game but didn’t play much at all in either overtime session. It will be critical for the Friars to get production from at least 4 guys again tomorrow. I expect Cotton to put up around 20 points and Henton to put up around 15 points. After that, it’s kind of a mystery game to game. Harris played very well against DePaul on Saturday to rebound from a brutal game at Marquette on Thursday night. I think Harris will have another good game tomorrow and put up around 16 points. That gets PC to 51 points between those 3 players. Can Batts deliver 12-15 points? I believe he can and will. Fortune will try to do his best to slow down D’Angelo Harrison again but Harrison is playing much better lately as is the entire SJU team. Harrison led all scorers on Saturday with 27 points against Marquette. Chris Obekpa had 7 blocks against the Golden Eagles as well. This will be a different team than Providence saw less than 3 weeks ago. But it’s still a team coached by Steve Lavin and they haven’t really seemed to be able to get into any kind of rhythm on offense. They dribble the ball way too much and rely on guys like Harrison to create and hit tough shots. Many SJU fans complained about Lavin’s coaching during and after our game at Carnesseca and they had nothing but high praise for Ed Cooley.
The key to this game for the Friars will be to get Kadeem Batts involved early. In Providence’s 6 losses, Batts has averaged 7.5 ppg and only reached double digits once – the blowout loss against Villanova – when he scored 10 points in 27 minutes. In Providence’s 16 wins, Batts has averaged 13.8 ppg.
Prediction: St. John’s 65 Providence 67