GAME NOTES: The Providence Friars and Fairfield Stags meet up in non- conference action at the Dunkin' Donuts Center on Friday afternoon.
Ed Cooley will be facing his old team in this contest. Prior to taking over at Providence three years ago, he served as Fairfield's head coach for five seasons. The Friars are off to a fast start in 2013-14. The team opened the year with six straight wins, but enters off its first loss, a 56-52 setback to Maryland in the championship game of the Paradise Jam.
Sydney Johnson is in his third season with the Stags. Fairfield comes into this contest looking for answers. The Stags opened their season with a 67-54 win over Sacred Heart, but haven't found the win column since, dropping five straight games, including last weekend's 68-47 loss to Richmond.
Providence holds a 32-5 series advantage against Fairfield and has won the last 11 meetings, dating back to the 1967-68 campaign.
The majority of Fairfield's problems this season have come at the offensive end of the court, where the team has struggled to find a rhythm, shooting just .378 overall, including a mere .282 from 3-point range. The poor shooting has led to a meager 54.2 ppg. Marcus Gilbert is the top scoring threat in the early going, averaging 11.3 ppg. No other player is in double digits for the Stags, with Maurice Barrow ranking second on the team at 8.0 ppg.
It was another offensive disappointment for Fairfield in its last game against Richmond in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off. The Stags managed to convert just 33.3 percent from the floor, a number hampered by an ugly 2-of-19 from behind the arc. The result was a season low 47 points. Gilbert led the way in defeat with 10 points, while Barrow finished with nine.
Providence hasn't exactly lit up scoreboards this season, but a balanced attack with playmakers both inside and out, the Friars are tough to contend with. Bryce Cotton has struggled to find his range at just 34.7 percent accuracy from the floor -- a scary thought considering he is averaging a strong 17.7 ppg. La Dontae Henton (13.9 ppg, 8.1 rpg) and Kadeem Batts (13.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg) give the team a formidable front line. Tyler Harris (12.9 ppg) bolsters the backcourt play alongside Cotton.
The Friars dug themselves into an early hole, one that grew into a 19-point second-half deficit. The team rallied late, but fell to Maryland by four points at the Paradise Jam. Cotton knocked down 6-of-17 shots to finish with a game-high 19 points. Henton and Harris added 10 points apiece, but it wasn't enough to overcome an ugly .271 shooting from the floor overall.
The Stags lack the personnel to pull off an upset of the Friars on their own floor. If Cotton starts to heat up, Providence could go from a solid team, to a Big East contender.
Game Date and Time