Friars drop 79-65 decision to #3 Wildcats
Monday, December 02, 2013
When you face one of the top teams in the country, you’ve got to be at your best to play with the best.
Providence did that with the 3rd ranked Kentucky Wildcats Sunday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY…for about 30 minutes. Then, the Wildcats strength, talent and overall ability took over in the second half as they ran past the Friars 79-65.
“I thought we made a lot of mistakes in the second half,” PC coach Ed Cooley said to the media post-game. “Our depth was an issue, especially at the guard position but I like their team. They will be very good at the end of the day.”
The Wildcats are very good right now, too. With PC managing just 31% shooting from the floor, Kentucky set the nets on fire shooting 64%. UK features one of the youngest lineups in the nation, but also one of the most talented – and that talent was on full display in Brooklyn. Led by the old man in their starting lineup Willie Cauley-Stein (a sophomore, starting with four freshmen), he never let the Friars (7-2) get comfortable in the paint…blocking a career-best nine shots and altering countless others.
As Kentucky surged into a 10-point lead first-half lead with 9:46 left in the period, finally the Friars began to figure out how to score a bit against the long and strong Wildcat defenders. Back-to-back three’s from Bryce Cotton (23 points) running off of double-screens pulled PC within three, before the inside-outside combination of uber-freshmen Julius Randle (12 points, eight rebounds) and James Young (team high 18 points) kept UK on top.
Cotton, however, showed he belonged with the talented kids from UK, and might have even taught them a thing or two. After hitting two free throws and canning another three in less than a minute, PC had the Wildcats tied up at 35 with 2:17 to play before the half. A Cauley-Stein dunk and jumper from Aaron Harrison put the Cats back up by four at the break.
An opening trey from Cotton in the first minute of the second half pulled PC within one – but that’s as close as they’d get the rest of the night. Simply put…too much talent, too much length…and too much good shooting from a team not really known for its outside touch just wore the Friars down. It was still a four point game, 49-45, with 14:30 to play before the Wildcats broke things open with an 8-0 run to take a double-digit lead they would not relinquish. A three from Young, a layup by Harrison and a dunk from Alex Poythress put the Cats in control by 11 with 12:28 to play.
In all, a 20-7 run by Kentucky (7-1) sealed Providence’s fate at that point. But truth be known – Kentucky was simply the better team. With the talent John Calipari has assembled in Lexington, KY…and they shoot as well as they did Sunday night in Brooklyn…there won’t be too many teams able to play with them.
“We tried to play inside-out but our guys got frustrated trying to shoot over their length,” Cooley said. “When those kids mature they can be really, really scary.”
PC’s shooting was off most of the night, despite hitting a season high 10 three-pointers (on 19 attempts). The Friars managed to hit just nine-for-42 from two-point range, due in large part to Kentucky’s size inside. The game plan was to take things right at the UK bigs, and the bigs were ready for the challenge – especially Cauley-Stein…Cauley-Stein, a 7-0 sophomore from Kansas, narrowly missed a triple-double, with 15 points, eight rebounds and his nine blocks…four Wildcats finished in double-figures, as Young’s 18 and Randle’s 12 were complimented by 15 from Aaron Harrison…UK shot 64% from the floor, hit 6-of-8 from three and 76% from the line. They came into the game only a 64% foul shooting team, and 28% from three…the Friars finished with the rather odd stat line of 31% shooting, but 53% from three, and hit 74% (10 points below their average) from the line…Kentucky came into the game leading the nation in rebound margin (+17 per game), and managed to outrebound the Friars 35-30. PC had 18 offensive rebounds, and the second-chance points kept the Friars in the game much of the way, despite the poor shooting percentage…Providence also had a season-low six turnovers…after Cotton’s 23 points, Tyler Harris and Josh Fortune contributed 10 each. Kadeem Batts had eight points and eight rebounds before fouling out, and LaDontae Henton scored seven with five boards before fouling out…the Wildcats were ranked #1 in the nation in most pre-season polls, but fell in their opener to Michigan State by four. They’ve now won seven straight…the meeting was just the second all time between the schools, with UK having won at MSG in the 1976 NIT. The two are scheduled to meet again next season in Lexington, but it may be a completely different Wildcat team by that time. Seven of their players are projected as potential 1st round NBA selections…several former Friars took in the game at the Barclays Center, including Brooklynite Rob Phelps, Carlton Screen, Dickie Simpkins, Jamel Thomas, Abdul Mills, and Randall Hanke. Of course, former PC star Austin Croshere took it in as well, from the Fox Sports 1 studios as a game analyst…Kris Dunn did not play for a second straight game, still bothered by his right shoulder. Cooley said before the game he’ll have it examined again Monday, with a very real possibility he could be finished for the year. If that happens, Dunn will most likely apply for a medical redshirt and still have three years of eligibility remaining…the next Ed Cooley Show will be Tuesday night from Shula’s in Providence at 7:00 pm (on 103.7 FM) and the next game is the rivalry renewal with URI Thursday night in Kingston at 8:00 pm…
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