Coming off the heartbreaking loss to South Florida last Saturday, Friar fans were skeptical about their next home game against the No. 19 ranked University of Connecticut Huskies, who had just handed it to number one Texas 88-74.
However, even if it took a couple of desperation emails from the sports marketing department at the college, students showed up in droves and brought an unrivaled electricity with them to the Dunkin Donuts Center that had not been seen since the Pittsburgh game last year.
With Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson, and Kemba Walker offering some matchups problems in year's past, this current Friars team seems to be built with enough speed to run with the top teams in the Big East.
Yes, they may not have the size up front to rival other Big East big men such as Samardo Samuels of Louisville, or Greg Monroe of Georgetown but Wednesday night proved with hustle and effort this year, they can beat anybody.
Center Bilal Dixon added 11 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks, as forward Jamine "Greedy" Peterson dropped 23 points, 14 rebounds to go along with 3 assists, 4 steals, and many vicious dunks which fueled the crowd.
Strange about this game was how the Friars, either purposely or not, decided to attack the basket more, rather than taking contested jumpers or threes early in the shot clock.
Their ball control was excellent as they continued to make the Huskies work on every defensive position, forced them to work harder on the boards and in the paint to beat them, and they did not do it.
The story of the game lay in the 53-38 rebounding margin in favor of the Friars, including a 24-12 advantage on the offensive end leading to a 21-12 second chance point lead over UConn.
In addition to winning the rebounding battle the Friars had the advantage in the paint as well 44-32.
Providence drove to the basket, even with their smaller guards, Vincent Council and Sharaud Curry and made plays, whether it was going to the foul line (Curry, 10-10 FTs) or setting up a teammate (Council, 8 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists).
Freshman Duke Mondy (10 points) was a huge asset off the bench as he seems to be playing himself into the starting lineup or at least fighting for more minutes.
His hustle and confidence could be seen as he knocked down big shots, chased rebounds, and forced turnovers on the defensive end.
It seemed as if all the coaching, all the practice, all the experience in previous games, clicked at the same time for this young Friars squad.
They truly played as a team on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. Fueled by each other and the crowd, they led by as much as eighteen points late in the second half, held the Huskies to 38.7 percent shooting for the game, and clinched a win over a ranked team.
Hopefully, a recipe for success was born as Providence heads to Cincinnati 13-7 (4-4) tomorrow night and Syracuse on Tuesday 20-1 (7-1) (2/2), before coming home for Parents Weekend next Saturday to face Marquette 12-8 (3-5).
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