End of the Road at Louisville

The true road games mercifully ended for Providence on Wednesday, as Louisville exacted their Yum Center revenge on a Friar team that had defeated them in January. The 87-60 Friar loss was yet another road misadventure this season, as Providence went winless on the road for the first time since 1988.

Unlike the previous game at Marquette, the Friars came out with good energy against Louisville and competed, hanging around for at least a half. Sparked by hot shooting from Vincent Council and capitalizing on some impatient Louisville offense, the Friars jumped out to a seven point lead and led the Cardinals on Senior Night until the ten minute mark of the first half.

Rick Pitino knew that Keno Davis was only dressing eight scholarship players for the game, and lived with the early flurry of Friar points, guessing that they would eventually run out of gas against Louisville's depth and pressure. He was right.

Once the Friar offense cooled off, the Cardinals began getting more fast break baskets to take the lead. They also began to exploit their significant advantage on the interior, going to Terrence Jennings, Kyle Kuric, and Chris Smith again and again to attack the Friars in the paint for high percentage shots and put backs.

Providence went to halftime down ten, after a whirling playground shot by Preston Knowles was ruled good at the buzzer. Ten points really was as close as they would be the rest of the way. The Cardinals shot 48.7 percent in the first half and held the Friars to 9 of 33 shooting after the Friars nailed their first four shots.

Lousiville expanded their lead early in the second half with some transition threes by Kuric and Knowles. The Louisville pressure continued to force Providence miscues, and the lead expand to 18 by ten minute mark, ballooning up to 30 at one point. The Friars ultimately ended up losing by 27.

Providence once again gave up over 80 points, while shooting only 32% on offense themselves for a paltry 60 points. A lot of credit goes to Louisville's aggressive press and zone defense, but the Friars offense simply did a poor job moving the ball and was again displayed a leaky interior defense. Louisville cashed in on 18 Providence turnovers for 25 points. Providence managed only 6 points on Louisville miscues.

Marshon Brooks was double teamed nearly the entire game, and although he had an impressive 7 assists, he only scored a paltry 12 points. That was the second sub par shooting game for Brooks. Not another Friar had an assist. That is shocking, a bit deceiving too, particularly when you consider Vincent Council.

Council shot the ball against Louisville better than he has in almost any game scoring 20 points, and he should have had a four or five assists as well. Unfortunately, Kadeem Batts really struggled when it came to receiving passes and finishing shots. Batts, who has been impressive at times this season, could not find his touch at all in this game. Batts went 1-10 from the field. Bilal Dixon was a respectable 3-6 from the field, but he should have had more shot attempts given how high the Louisville zone was playing and the heavy attention devoted to Brooks. Gerard Coleman chipped in a decent road game with 8 points and 7 rebounds, although he did have three turnovers.

Providence losing on the road again really surprised no one, but it is shocking that the team went 0-10 for the entire season in true road games. Duke Mondy missing another game per coach's decision is yet another instance where Providence was missing a key player for the third time in the final weeks of the season for something other than an injury. Off court distractions continue to plague the Friars the last two seasons.

Now all that is left to the season is Senior Night against Rutgers and the Friars last stand at the Big East Tournament. After an 11-2 start in the non-conference schedule, the Big East schedule has chewed up this team in a way that makes it feel a bit like replay of last season. The general view is that this Friar team has competed better and shown more fight than last year's edition, but the overall statistics are still near the bottom of the league and indicate that this Providence program has not progressed enough in the last year. The last chances to change that perception will unfold in the next week.

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