Game Notes & Preview: Providence (10-5, 0-2) vs Georgetown (8-6, 0-2) 1/4/17

Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center – Providence, RI

When: 7:00pm EST

How: CBS Sports Network (Tom McCarthy & Steve Lappas with Jamie Erdahl)/CBS Sports Network Streaming (Where Available)/WEEI 103.7 FM and Friars.com (John Rooke and Joe Hassett)/FriarTV

Game Notes

  • Providence and Georgetown will meet for the 69th time ever on Wednesday. The Hoyas lead the all-time series, 44-24. Providence is 16-14 all-time against Georgetown in Providence. The Friars swept the Hoyas in both regular season meetings last season and are riding a 4-game winning streak against Georgetown.
  • Providence has started 0-2 in Big East play 24 times. The last time the Friars opened league play with two straight losses was the 2013-14. In their third Big East game that year they played Georgetown at home and defeated the Hoyas, 70-52. That game would be the start of a 5-game winning streak to lift Providence to 15-5 on the season and 5-2 in Big East play.
  • Georgetown is 8-6 this season. The Hoyas have good wins against Oregon on a neutral court and Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, but they have lost at home to Maryland, Arkansas St and, most recently, Xavier. Georgetown was picked to finish T-4th in the preseason Big East Coaches’ Poll. The Hoyas are led by John Thompson III, who is in his 13th season at the helm of the Georgetown program. Graduate student Rodney Pryor  leads the Hoyas in scoring at 20.1 points/game, which ranks him second in the Big East. Sophomore Jessie Govan and graduate student Bradley Hayes lead the team in rebounding, each averaging 5.4 rebounds/game.
  • Opening Line: Providence -1.5 vs Georgetown 1/4/17

Game Preview

Both Providence and Georgetown enter Wednesday’s tilt at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center with 0-2 records in Big East play. The Friars were the only Big East team to open on the road for their first two games and neither game was pretty with Providence falling at Xavier by 26 and then at Butler by 17. Georgetown, on the other hand, has played both of their conference games close. The Hoyas also opened on the road but dropped that game to Marquette by 10. They returned home to face the Xavier team that was fresh off that beat-down of Providence and the Hoyas made things uncomfortable for Chris Mack’s team, ultimately losing by just 5 on New Year’s Eve.

Providence wasn’t expected to win either of the games they lost last week, but to have two no-show performances to start league play on the heels of a poor showing in a 12-point loss at Boston College just before Christmas has Ed Cooley searching for answers. The Friars have started slow and haven’t put up much of a fight except for some too little, too late runs that have done little to keep the final margins from being embarrassing. Cooley isn’t panicking, though. He told his players after the loss at Hinkle Fieldhouse on New Year’s Day that they have to be able to withstand two or three game losing streaks in the gauntlet that is Big East league play. They’ll get their chance to respond in their home opener after being on the road for 5-straight days. Keep an eye out for Cooley to shake up the starting lineup in this game to try to facilitate his team getting off to a faster start.

The Hoyas came into the season with some questions but found a great answer in graduate transfer Rodney Pryor who has put up excellent scoring numbers after coming to Georgetown from Robert Morris. Pryor has upped his points/game from 18.0 last season with the Colonials to 20.3 with the Hoyas. That number is just 0.2 points/game behind Josh Hart for the Big East lead. Pryor is also scoring more efficiently, especially from beyond the arc where he is sinking shots at a 50% clip after shooting 36.3% in his career prior to this season. L.J. Peak has also improved his scoring from 12.3 points/game last season as a sophomore to 16.1 as a junior. He’s also the Hoyas leader in assists/game at 3.4.

Georgetown is vulnerable on the defensive glass where they allow their opponents to rebound 34.5% of their own misses. That’s the 318th-ranked Offensive Rebound % in the country, per Kenpom.com. They do defend the rim very well with the 31st-ranked Block % of 14% of opponents’s shot swatted. On the offensive side, the Hoyas turn the ball over a touch to often, including having the 278th-ranked Steal % of 9.9. Where Georgetown thrives on offense is in getting to the free throw line and sinking a good percentage of their 3-point attempts. The Hoyas have shot at least 20 free throws in 13 of their 14 games, including 2 games where they shot 42 and 43 free throws, respectively. They also make 76.4% of those attempts, good for 21st in the nation.

The probable starters according to the game notes are:

Providence
Georgetown

The keys to victory for Providence are to play good defense without fouling and ensure Rodney Bullock gets involved early on the offensive end. Georgetown scores 25.5% of their points at the free throw line. They rank 12th in the country in percentage of scoring at the charity stripe. Even though they make the 3-ball at a near 40% clip, they don’t take very many shots from beyond the arc. In fact, the Hoyas rank 280th nationally in total 3-point attempts with 251 through 14 games. Providence needs to keep Georgetown off the free throw line and force them to be a jump-shooting team.

Last season, Bullock notched double-doubles in both games against Georgetown. He also scored a game-high 23 points in Providence’s win at the Dunk in mid-February and pulled down 14 rebounds in Providence’s win at the Verizon Center last season. That tied his career best for rebounds. Bullock had been slumping the last few games but came on in the second half of Providence’s last outing at Butler with 10 points on 4/7 from the field in those second 20 minutes, including 2/4 from beyond the arc. Providence needs Bullock to consistently perform as the alpha scorer this season. While it was nice to see Kyron Cartwright go off and make some tough shots en route to a career-high 26 points against Butler, Providence won’t go very far with Cartwright shooting 22 times and only dishing 4 assists.

Prediction: Providence 75 Georgetown 74, OT

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