The Providence Friars go on to beat the Xavier Musketeers 83-68 on Thursday night at Alumni Hall in Providence. The last time these two met, on January 10th, the Musketeers won at the buzzer with a final score of 73-72 at the Cintas Center despite the Friars knocking down 13 3-pointers. Both teams tonight were missing key players. For the Musketeers, they were without Nate Johnson, who is their best 3 point shooter, shooting 45.2 percent from beyond the arc. For the Friars, they were without Jimmy Nichols once again with some sort of undisclosed injury.
Providence was led by Noah Horchler who finished with 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks. The Friars had 5 in double figures, including David Duke with 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists. AJ Reeves had 16 points, Nate Watson with 15 points, and Jared Bynum with 10 points. For the Musketeers, they finish with 3 players in double figures; Zach Freemantle led the way with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Paul Scruggs added 22 points and Dwon Odom added 11 points.
The Friars shot a whopping 52.4 percent from beyond the arc and 53.7 percent from the field. On the year they have only shot 43 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from beyond the arc. A big boost for the Friars tonight was Noah Horchler and AJ Reeves both shooting 3-5 from 3 tonight and combining for 36 points. The Friars shot 82.4 percent from the free throw line on 14-17 shooting also.
For the Musketeers they struggled from 3, shooting only 17.6 percent and 44.3 percent from the field. On the season the Musketeers have shot 34.2 percent from 3 and 46.6 percent from the field. Colby Jones also went down with an injury to his head, after getting an elbow by Nate Watson, but eventually returned after getting worked on by the trainers.
The Friars really controlled the tempo for most of this game, having a lead throughout its entirety and never turning back. The Friars went into the break up 10 points and continued to maintain that lead, never letting it go under 4 points. Both teams did a good job getting to the free throw line, as the Musketeers shot 11-15 from the line and the Friars shot 14-17 from the line.
For the Musketeers before this game coming in at 12-4 they were predicted to have a bid into the NCAA tournament. After this loss they will certainly have to get some wins to finish out this regular season, as they have only played 4 games in the past 44 days due to Covid issues. When it comes down to Selection Sunday, a big factor will be how many games they have played and the magnitude of those wins.
On the other hand for the Friars, they came in at 11-11 following a loss from UCONN on Wednesday. The Friars' chances at a NCAA tournament bid are looking slim, but still possible. Will either take winning out completely and winning the Big East title, which will give them an automatic bid, or winning out the regular season, and winning 2-3 games in the Big East Tournament.
The Friars now sit at 12-11 on the season and 8-9 in Big East play, tied with St Johns in the standings. They will now have two games remaining the the regular season, Wednesday March 3rd vs St Johns, and Villinova on Saturday March 6th. It will be interesting
To see whether the Friars try to get in a non conference game to boost their resume for the NCAA Tournament. On the other hand for the Musketeers they now sit at 12-5 on the season and 5-5 in Big East play. They now have 3 games remaining the the regular season, Saturday February 27th vs Creighton, Tuesday March 2nd vs Georgetown, and Saturday March 6th vs Marquette.