Providence Basketball Notebook

The Sports Xchange takes a look at Providence going into its game with Pitt tonight at 9 at the Petersen Events Center.

GETTING INSIDE One of the most interesting stats regarding Providence this season is the discrepancy between its first-half and second-half success.

The Friars led both Syracuse and South Florida at the half last week, only to lose both games. In fact, the Friars are just 9-9 when leading at halftime.

It enters the week on an eight-game losing streak, but has led at the half in four of those games and was tied once. The issue isn't how the team starts games, but how it finishes. Providence gets another chance to finish a game when it visits Pittsburgh Thursday at 9 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center.

Coach Keno Davis isn't faulting his team's effort, or accusing the players of losing focus. His explanation is simple. Preparation and effort can sustain a team for a time, but ultimately it's hard to overcome superior talent, especially in a league as good as the Big East.

Whatever the reason, the Friars are halfway towards being a pretty good team in 2009-10, but Davis will need to find a way to get 40 minutes of superior play instead of 20 down the road.

NOTES, QUOTES --An illustration of the Friars problems on the defensive end is the two games the team played against South Florida. The Bulls scored 109 in an overtime victory the first time the two teams met, and 99 in last weekend's rematch. USF's season-high in points in the 26 games not against Providence this season? 78.

--His senior season is rapidly getting away from him, and the frustration for Sharaud Curry showed at the end of the South Florida game. After Dominique Jones scored on a breakaway to give the Bulls a one-point lead in the final seconds, and a Curry foul was sending him to the line for an additional free throw, Curry slammed the ball down in frustration. That earned him a technical foul, and effectively ended Providence's attempt to come back.

ON THE SPOT: Providence continues to be a terrible defensive team. It gave up 99 points in back-to-back games last week, and Syracuse Jim Boeheim said after his team followed up by beating Villanova that the points against the Friars defense was less meaningful because they came easily. The Bulls have had problems scoring points all year, but owned Providence both times the teams met. That's something that has to be addressed if the team hopes to go anywhere, now or in the future.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "To be leading or to be in the game is a testament to the effort we're giving. You can still be pretty proud of how hard the team is playing, and I think our fans have appreciated that all season." -- Providence coach Keno Davis told the Providence Journal, putting a positive spin on his team's tendency to follow strong first halves with weaker second haves.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL SEASON RECAP: Providence extended its losing streak to eight games with losses to Syracuse and South Florida. Only the 1-15 DePaul Blue Demons are keeping the Friars from the Big East cellar.

PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Jamine Peterson, F/C Bilal Dixon, G Vincent Council, G Brian McKenzie, G Sharaud Curry. Key Subs -- F Marshon Brooks, G Duke Mondy, G Johnnie Lacy.

GAME REVIEW: West Virginia 88, Providence 74 Syracuse 99, Providence 85 South Florida 99, Providence 93

GAME PREVIEW: at Pitt, Thursday, at 9 p.m. vs. Seton Hall, Saturday, March 6 at Big East tournament, March 9-13

IN FOCUS: Providence's best chance to avoid ending the season on a 10-game losing streak comes Saturday against Seton Hall. It is Sharaud Curry's final home game, and the Pirates have been hit-and-miss defensively this season. Seton Hall has scorers, but if this game becomes a defense-free track meet Providence has a shot.

ROSTER REPORT: --Sharaud Curry went 5-for-7 at the free throw line against South Florida, a bad game by his standards. Curry is a career 88% free throw shooter, and barring a collapse over his last few games he will graduate as the best in that category in Providence history.

--Kyle Wright left the basketball team last week. The guard reportedly plans to stay at Providence and graduate, however.

--Jamine Peterson continues to star offensively for the Friars. He scored 26 points in Saturday's loss to South Florida.

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