Providence (12-6, 1-4) entered the Carrier Dome on Saturday as massive underdogs at full strength against No. 1 Syracuse (18-0, 5-0), but the margin may be bigger after a late-breaking decision coach Ed Cooley made. Through a pre-game release, the first-year coach decided to sit top-scorer (16.4 points per game) and best player Vincent Council.
"He will not play in tonight's game versus Syracuse due to a coach's decision," it said.
On a more positive note for the visiting Friars, sophomore Gerard Coleman, the team's second-leading scorer (15.1 ppg) – is back in the lineup after missing the team's last game (against Louisville) with a back issue.
When the team's met on January 4, it was Council who kept Providence in the game until SU put it out of reach. He and Coleman scored 17 points apiece to pace the Friars. For the Orange, six players scored in double-figures – led by Brandon Triche's 16 points.
The game was back-and-fourth until Triche and James Southerland got hot from long range. Expect another scrappy performance from Providence, though it is tough to imagine the Friars holding their own without Council against the top team in the land.
Keep in mind though, that every good team has "one of those days" ala North Carolina earlier in the afternoon.