Friars Blow Away Louisville

Both teams came into the Dunk coming off of losses. Louisville had just had a tough double overtime loss to Notre Dame. Providence was downed by now-ranked Seton Hall and in the process, lost their second leading scorer, Gerard Coleman. However, the Friars came to win and downed the 14/15 ranked Louisville Cardinals, 90-59 to earn their first Big East win.

Without Coleman being able to play, due to a lower back injury suffered against Seton Hall, Providence started big with a three forward-two guard lineup, featuring Brice Kofane to play in the frontcourt alongside Kadeem Batts and LaDontae Henton. The game started off with a tough back and forth exchange from both teams, tying three times by the 7 minute mark in the first half. That stretch ended with both teams at 10-10.

Louisville would see the lead for the last time with 9:42 remaining in the first half as the Friars caught on fire from all areas of the floor, making stops and grabbing rebounds on defense, and scoring at will on offense. By the half the Friars led 43-25, with LaDontae Henton, Bryce Cotton, and Vincent Council all in double figures.

The Friars looked improved in every respect – they shot 93% from the charity stripe, 62% from the three, and 48% from the field in the first half. Fans were restless though, wondering when the other shoe was going to drop – either for Providence to go cold or Louisville to heat up. The second half, however, proved that Providence wasn't going to roll over and let their lead be taken from them.

PC came out of the gates with the same energy and focus that had gotten them the lead. The result was a 90-59 win for the Friars with both Kadeem Batts (who had a double-double with 10 rebounds) and Bryce Cotton each contributing 27 points (Cotton also shot 5-5 from three point land) and Vincent Council having a 14-2 assist/turnover ratio. Council also had 15 points and nearly had a triple-double with 8 boards.

When Peyton Siva fouled out in the second half it only opened the flood gates further for the Friars. The Friars kept Louisville shooting at 37% from the field, and out-rebounded the Cardinals, 40-25 for the game. Another 34 points were a result from Providence's play in the paint, which has shown improvements and gave encouragement to those who were concerned about the front court talent.

The Friars handled Louisville's frenetic pressure defense well. As a team, Providence had 23 assists against just 12 turnovers and Council and Cotton were cool under pressure. PC shot remarkably well, hitting shots near the end of the shot clock, bombing threes, and crashing in for unstoppable Batts' dunks.

This win marks the Friars first win in Big East play this season, as well as Ed Cooley's first Big East win. It was also the largest margin of victory PC has ever had over a ranked opponent. Rick Pitino, head coach of Louisville and former Providence College coach, who is best remembered in Friar history for taking his team to the Final Four in 1987, described the game as one where "nothing goes right and everything goes wrong and the other team does everything right," and also saying that "there's that one game a year that you can't explain, you don't know why it happens." At halftime Rick Pitino was going to stay on court as part of a 25-year anniversary celebration of his Friar Final Four team, but retreated to the locker room to coach his team, being down by 18.

The Friars return to action on Saturday in a rematch at top ranked Syracuse before having a week off to prepare for a Saturday home game against the University of Marquette, who is also ranked in the top 25.

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