Friars Slice Up Orange

In what could be considered a turning point game, the Providence Friars used some high octane offense and just enough defense to drive past 15th ranked Syracuse by a score of 100-94. It is PC's first win over a Top 25 team this season, and one which will help their post season resume considerably.

While Syracuse's dynamic duo of Johnny Flynn and Eric Devendorf really came to play Wednesday night, it simply wasn't enough to turn back a Friar squad that was determined to not let another big opportunity pass them by. Flynn was superb putting up 35 points in 40 minutes of play, and Devendorf wasn't far behind in scoring 26 points himself. But that production could not offset all the answers that Providence had offensively, as the Friars had very few scoring lapses all night, hitting basket after basket.

Collectively, Providence turned in arguably their most complete team effort of the season, with contributions up and down the lineup against quality competition. Hanging 100 points on the 15th ranked team in the nation usually requires that sort of performance. It is becoming very clear that this team can score against anyone.

Keno Davis could not have been happier with the way his team shared the ball and showed the ability to score both inside and out. "When you're a 3-point shooting team and you can put three, four players on the court that can shoot from the outside, then you can get them to extend and get the ball inside more"

Both teams really put on an offensive show in this one, and the rebounds were about even. The big differences in this game were the turnover numbers and the bench scoring. Syracuse committed 22 costly turnovers, which gave the Friars transition opportunities in the second half that they really took advantage of to build a lead they would never relinquish. Jim Boeheim felt that was the key to the win for Providence:

"We made 5 or 6 bad turnovers, and I think that was the difference in the game."

Those key turnovers were part of a Providence run that included a great steal and layup by Geoff McDemott, sandwiched between a Sharaud Curry deep three and transition layup. Curry has been fantastic since the Big East season started, and he really rose to the challenge of going up against a prime time player like Johnny Flynn. Curry said he felt extra motivation in the matchup with Flynn and responded with an outstanding game of his own, going 8-10 from the field with 22 points and four assists.

"Any time you can play against someone of his (Flynn's) caliber, it's easy to excited for it so I'd say I definitely was."

Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim remarked about how much better Providence is as team when Sharaud Curry is running the offense. "He's a really good point guard, and he's the difference on that team this year. Without him, they don't win any of these games this year."

Providence once again got very good production from both Jon Kale and Geoff McDemott, who both hit for double figures and were 6-9 from the field. Kale is now connecting on the mid range jumper with more frequency, and it has really made in difference in the effectiveness of PC's zone offense. Weyinme Efejuku, while not as electric as he sometimes is, turned in a poised and solid 12 points to round out the production from the starters.

The Friars also got big contributions from their subs, outscoring Syracuse 34-8 from bench. Marshon Brooks and Randall Hanke scored 17 and 12 respectively, showing once again that Providence's quality depth may be their greatest weapon. Hanke also had 6 rebounds in only 19 minutes, which Keno Davis made note of as a good sign going forward.

Providence maintained a lead between eight and twelve points for much of the second half until the Orange began to chip away at it over the last five minutes. Sparked by some three point shooting by Eric Devendorf and a little offensive stagnation by Providence, Syracuse cut the Providence lead to five with two minutes to play in the game. Keno Davis talked about executing late in games.

"When teams are up 6-8 points with 5 minutes to go, sometimes teams stop attacking, and that's what we kind of did for a stretch. You're not going to get the call when you go late (in the shot clock) so you've got to make those plays earlier."

The Friars had to take care of business from the free throw line to close out the victory, and hit most of the attempts they needed to, making 14 free throws over the last two and half minutes.

Providence now has some breathing room at 6-2 in the Big East, as well as signature win over a Top 25 team. With an RPI of 61 with games still to play against the likes of Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh, & Villanova, Providence has a number of other big opportunities to improve their standing and statistical profile for March. The win over Syracuse appears to have signaled that the Friars are finally poised to try and seize big goals for the first time since 2004. It looks to be a very interesting second half of the Big East schedule.

Next Game: Providence at Connecticut
_Location: Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, CT.
Time: 4:00 pm ET
TV: SNY – Cox
Radio: 103.7FM WEEI

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