Game Notes & Preview: Providence (8-4) vs Sacred Heart (5-7) 12/22/17

Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center – Providence, RI

When: 6:30pm EST

How: FS1 (Rich Ackerman & Vin Parise)/Fox Sports GO (Where Available)/WEEI 103.7 FM and Friars.com (John Rooke and Joe Hassett)/FriarTV

Tickets: SeatGeek

Game Notes

  • Providence and Sacred Heart will meet for the 5th time ever on Friday. Providence leads the all-time series, 4-0. The two schools first played on December 19, 2001 with the Friars winning that game, 85-76. All four previous contests took place in Providence.
  • Providence is 54-12 all-time against teams from the Northeast Conference.
  • Sacred Heart is 5-7 this season. The Pioneers are on a 2-game losing streak after falling at Hartford and then at home to Binghamton. They were picked to finish 5th in the Northeast Conference Preseason Poll. Sacred Heart is coached by Anthony Latina who is in 5th season at the helm of the program. The Pioneers are led in scoring by senior Joseph Lopez who is averaging 13.6 points/game. Lopez also leads the team in rebounding averaging 9.3 rebounds/game. Senior Mario Matasovic is the other Pioneer averaging double figures in scoring at 10.8 points/game.
  • The Friars dropped a neutral court game against Houston, 70-59, in their last time out on Wednesday as part of the Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase at Mohegan Sun.
  • Providence senior forward Rodney Bullock went over 1,000 points in his career against Boston College on November 25th. He became the 48th player in school history to score at least 1,000 points. Bullock is the 17th-fastest Providence player, tied with Eric Murdock, to score his 1,000th point (73 games). Bullock’s current place on the list is 37th with 1,106 points. He is 4 points behind Michael Smith.
  • Providence senior guard Kyron Cartwright continues his drive up the all-time assist record list at Providence. He began the season tied for 12th with John Linehan (450). Cartwright has 68 assists through 12 games. He has 518 assists in his career, which places him 7th all-time at Providence. Next on the list in front of Cartwright is Ricky Tucker (520). Cartwright recorded his 500th career assist against URI on December 2nd. He is the 7th Providence player to record at least 500 career assists.
  • Providence officially announced on November 29th that Emmitt Holt would miss the entire 2017-18 season as a redshirt while he continues to recover from abdominal surgery. Holt has been off campus recovering, but is expected to return to school in January.
  • Opening Line: Providence -18.5 vs Sacred Heart 12/22/17

Game Preview

Providence and Sacred Heart will meet for the 5th time ever on Friday night. The Pioneers are likely to finish the 2017-18 season as either the worst team in terms of ratings metrics on Providence’s schedule or one of the three worst teams in the running with Houston Baptist and Brown. There isn’t a lot to pinpoint in terms of statistics that SHOULD matter in this game because even with the injuries that Providence is dealing with right now they should still be able to beat Sacred Heart at home.

The Pioneers are led in scoring and rebounding by senior Joseph Lopez. Lopez does a good chunk of his scoring after grabbing an offensive rebound, which is something Providence will need to control. To date the Friars have struggled to do so with the 251st OR% allowed of 31.2%. Lopez may be the team’s leading scorer but he isn’t overly efficient in doing so. The most efficient scorer on the team is Mario Matasovic who is in his second season with the Pioneers after transferring from Western Michigan after the 2014-15 season.

On the defensive side of the ball, Sacred Heart’s two biggest weaknesses are defending in the pick and roll and in the post. This could be another game where the Friars feed the ball inside similar to their offensive philosophy against Stony Brook.

Listen to the Providence Friarcast:

The probable starters are:

Providence
Sacred Heart

The keys to victory for Providence are to get the ball inside and prevent Sacred Heart from getting offensive rebounds. As I mentioned above, Sacred Heart struggles in post defense with their biggest regular player being 6’8. Nate Watson was able to do damage against a similarly sized frontline of Stony Brook, however Watson did leave something to be desired in the defensive rebounding category against the Seawolves. Keeping Lopez and the rest of the Pioneers away from offensive rebounds and second chance points will be critical to winning this game and heading into the Christmas break on a positive note.

Prediction: Providence 72 Sacred Heart 62

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