Providence (2-0) vs. Massachusetts (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 15, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez (12,000) -- Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Providence 2-0, UMass 1-0. Away Record: Providence 0-0, UMass 0-0. Neutral Record: Providence 0-0, UMass 0-0. Conference Record: Providence 0-0, UMass 0-0. Series Record: Providence leads, 22-5.
GAME NOTES: First-round action of the 2012 Puerto Rico Tipoff continue on Thursday night, as the Providence Friars take on the Massachusetts Minutemen at Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon.
Providence encountered a major scare in its opener last Saturday from NJIT, but was able to pull through in the game's final minute to win, 64-63. Things went much more smoothly in its second game against Bryant University as it cruised to an easy 81-49 victory. The Friars participated in the very first Puerto Rico Tipoff in 2007, winning a pair of early-round games before falling in the championship bout to Miami-Florida, 64-58.
UMass was in for a difficult task in its opener at home on Tuesday against reigning Ivy League champion Harvard, but with the game tied in the waning seconds, Sampson Carter drilled the game-winning three-pointer (his only bucket of the game) to lift his team to victory and a 1-0 start. It was a promising start for the Minutemen, who won 25 games a season ago.
Providence owns a commanding 22-5 series advantage against UMass, but the teams haven't met since December of 2000.
After coming out rather sluggish in the season opener shooting-wise, Providence picked things up considerably in the recent win over Bryant by connecting on 31-of-54 field goal atempts (.574), which included a 8-of-15 showing from three-point land. Bryce Cotton tallied a double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds, while also adding six assists. Cotton is now averaging a team-high 22.5 ppg filling in for point guard Vincent Council, who injured his leg early in the opener. Council was a Preseason All-Big East selection, and the time table for his return is unknown. Kadeem Batts has also helped pick up the slack in Council's absence, as he scored a career-high 27 points on 12-of-15 shooting against Bryant, adding nine rebounds and a blocked shot to his impressive stat line. LaDontae Henton was also hot from the field, making 7-of-12 field goal attempts en route to 16 points. While Cotton, Henton, and Batts all average at least 18.5 ppg through two contests, no other Friar nets more than five points per game.
UMass had a rough night against a hard-nosed Harvard squad, as it was held to less than 39 percent field goal shooting, but it came up a clutch bucket when it mattered most. The Minutemen also stepped up their play at the defensive end by holding the Crimson to 37.3 percent shooting while forcing 19 turnovers. Although Jesse Morgan started the game on the bench, he saw significant action, finishing with a team-high 19 points, albeit on just 7- of-18 shooting from the floor. Last year's leading scorer Chaz Williams (16.9 ppg) also had a cold shooting night, making just six of his 15 attempts, but he made up for a below-average scoring night by getting others involved with 10 assists. Raphiael Putney added 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting with two blocks and three steals. Cady Lalanne started at center and did plenty of dirty work in tallying nine points, 13 boards and four blocks.
While Providence has gotten big-time scoring efforts from its top players, it came against much inferior competition, and the team is simply not the same without Council on the floor. UMass has a veteran squad that runs a talented and deep rotation, which makes it one of the favorites in this event.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Massachusetts 78, Providence 68
11/15 10:34:40 ET