Two of the elite teams in the Big East Conference meet Wednesday when fourth-ranked UConn goes on the road to play Providence.
The Friars (12-3, 4-0 Big East) opened Big East play with four consecutive wins for the first time in the program’s history by prevailing 74-59 over DePaul on Sunday in Chicago. Providence and Xavier (12-3, 4-0) are tied for first place and are the only unbeaten teams in the conference.
Providence sophomore Devin Carter, a transfer from South Carolina, tied his career high by scoring 22 points against the Blue Demons. He also had five steals and four blocked shots. The Friars received 18 points from Jared Bynum, and 12 points and eight rebounds from Bryce Hopkins. Hopkins owns team-best averages of 15.7 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
“When you can win a road game it gives us some confidence, (and) we’ve been fortunate to win a couple games on the road in the league which are really hard to get,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “We have to put this behind us and protect home court against, to me, the best team in the country.”
UConn (14-1, 3-1) is coming off its first loss of the season, a 83-73 setback against Xavier on Saturday in Cincinnati.
“Disappointed,” Huskies coach Dan Hurley said following the loss. “These guys wanted to keep that ‘0.’ This group’s done some historic things. It’s hard to do historic things in a place with four championships.
“The group was real down. They wanted the chance to win this game on the road, make a statement and potentially be No. 1 on Monday. That’s what we were striving for.”
The Huskies were within two points with 2:25 to play, but Hurley was hit with a technical foul following a foul called on UConn’s Tristen Newton. Xavier made all four free throws to increase its lead to six points. UConn missed nine of its final 10 shots from the floor, including its final six.
Xavier attempted 28 free throws in the game. UConn attempted nine.
“Put yourself in my shoes,” Hurley said, according to the Connecticut Post. “You’re aware of the free-throw discrepancy while the game is going on. You look at the first half and they’ve got one team foul through 15 or 16 minutes. So, you see that, that’s factoring into your brain.”
Adama Sanogo scored a team-high 18 points against Xavier. He leads the Huskies in scoring (17.8 points per game) and rebounding (6.7 boards per game).
UConn missed 24 of its 37 3-point attempts vs. the Musketeers.
“We were hoping to go undefeated, but … we’re going to learn, going into another road game on Wednesday, in an even more hostile type of environment,” Hurley said. “We’re going to have to do things differently than we did (against Xavier).”
Providence will enter the Wednesday matchup on a seven-game winning streak.
“I still think we have a long way to go, but from where we were a month ago to where we are today … you can see a lot of different units that are on the floor really clicking at the right time,” Cooley said, according to the Providence Journal. “Proud of the group.”
–Field Level Media