Providence (14-12) at Rutgers (13-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The RAC (8,000) -- Piscataway, New Jersey. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Providence 10-4, Rutgers 9-5. Away Record: Providence 3-6, Rutgers 3-7. Neutral Record: Providence 1-2, Rutgers 1-0. Conference Record: Providence 6-8, Rutgers 4-10. Series Record: Providence leads, 15-8.
GAMES NOTES: In the second half of a two-game road swing, the Providence Friars will head to the RAC for a Big East battle with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday night.
The Friars had been rolling along with wins in four straight contests before Wednesday when they were routed, 84-59, at the Carrier Dome by No. 8 Syracuse. The loss was a humbling one for Providence which is just above .500 overall this season (14-12), while among the bottom half of the Big East standings with a 6-8 mark. Two straight home games await the Friars following this matchup beginning next Saturday against St. John's.
A 71-63 defeat on the road to Villanova sank Rutgers for the eighth time in its last nine outings. Though Rutgers has a similar overall record this season as compared to the Friars at 13-12, the Scarlet Knights have not been so fortunate in Big East action (4-10), placing them ahead of just three other teams in the league standings. After this contest Rutgers will play back-to- back games against ranked opponents beginning against No. 11 Georgetown next Saturday.
Providence has really handled Rutgers over the past decade with 10 wins in 13 meetings since the 2002 season. The Friars also lead the all-time series by a 15-8 margin.
Not many teams can go into the Carrier Dome and compete with Syracuse and that was the case for Providence on Wednesday. The Friars shot just 34.8 percent from the floor in the contest, while allowing the Orange to knock down 56.6 percent in front of a home crowd. LaDontae Henton managed a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds in the losing effort.
Big East leading scorer Bryce Cotton (20 ppg) kept his streak in double figures, which now stands at 17 games, alive in the loss but had just 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting. Henton (13.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg) has been a constant force on the interior this season and a double-double threat most nights along with frontcourt partner Kadeem Batts (14.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg). Vincent Council (9.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg) has struggled with injuries and shooting (.354 FG percentage) this season but when on the floor he does a great job of setting up his teammates. In all, Providence is in the bottom half of the Big East in offensive efficiency, scoring 67.8 points per game, shooting just 41.8 percent from the field.
A 12-5 run over the final five minutes by Villanova ruined Rutgers' upset attempt on Monday. The Scarlet Knights shot just 42.9 percent from the field in the loss and were outscored 24-9 from beyond the arc. Rutgers also had a 19-8 deficit in points off turnovers.
In the loss to Villanova, Rutgers was playing its first game of the season since leading scorer Eli Carter (14.9 ppg) was lost for the season with a fractured right fibula. With Carter out, Myles Mack (13.6 ppg) is the top scoring option as the only other player not only averaging in double figures this season but scoring more than seven points per game as well. Mack has been selective with his shots leading to an impressive 50.9 field-goal percentage for the 5-foot-9 guard who has averaged 26 points per game over the last two contests. Wally Judge (6.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Dane Miller (6.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg) are the next best scoring options after Mack. Rutgers is also one of the lesser offensive teams in the Big East, scoring 66.3 points per game on 44.2 percent shooting while assisting on just 12.7 field goals a contest.
With Carter gone for the season there just aren't enough consistent offensive weapons for Rutgers to hang with most teams in the Big East, including Providence.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Providence 70, Rutgers 65
02/23 11:13:58 ET