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March 6, 2012The Friars, who finished 15th in the Big East, will play Seton Hall, which finished 10th, in the first round of the Big East Tournament on Tuesday. The winner of that game will face UofL at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
Should the Friars beat the Pirates, it would give the Cards a chance to avenge their worst game of the season - a 90-59 loss at Providence on Jan.10. In that game the Cards were embarrassed. The Friars, who scored a season high, shot 52.8 percent overall, including 60 percent (9 of 15) from three-point range, outrebounded the Cards 40-25 and had 23 assists to 14 by UofL. The Cards shot 37.9 percent overall, 21.1 percent from beyond the arc (4 of 19).
What was even worse, the Friars played that game without one of their best players, sophomore guard Gerald Coleman, who was out with a sore back.
"We just didn't come to play," said UofL coach Rick Pitino.
Since mauling the Cards, Providence has gone 3-10, although the Friars have won two of their last three games, edging host DePaul 73-71 before besting the Huskies. They ended their regular season with a 75-69 loss at Notre Dame to give them a record of 15-16, 4-14. Their league mark is the same as last season and, should they lose to UConn, they also will match last season's overall record.
Providence usually employs a three-guard attack, although first-year coach Ed Cooley went with two starting guards on Jan. 10 because of Coleman's absence.
Vincent Council, a 6-2 junior, leads the team in scoring at 16.2 ppg and leads the Big East in assists at 7.5 a game. He had 15 points and 14 assists (matching UofL's team total) in the Jan. 10 meeting. He has played all 40 minutes in the last five games.
Bryce Cotton, a 6-1 sophomore, is second on the team in scoring at 14.4 ppg, is a pretty good three-point shooter at 38.7 percent and a very good free-throw shooter at 89.6 percent, which leads the Big East. He had 27 points on Jan. 10 and hit all five of his three-point shots.
The third starter in the backcourt is the 6-4 Coleman (13.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg). He's not a very good three-point shooter (23.8 percent).
Providence has little backcourt depth.
The 6-6 LaDontae Henton has had an outstanding freshman season. He's averaging 14.3 ppg, third on the team, and a team-leading 8.6 rpg. He's also the team's best three-point shooter at 40.2 percent. On Jan. 10 he had 14 points.
The other starter up front rotates among three players: 6-9 sophomore Kadeem Batts (6.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg), 6-8 freshman Brice Kofane (2.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and 6-9 junior Bilal Dixon (4.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg). Batts had 27 points and 10 rebounds on Jan. 10, Dixon 5 and 5, Kofane 2 and 3. None of the three has tried a three-point shot all season.
Council, who is fourth in the country in assists per game and 117th in scoring.
The Friars were 338th and last in the country in scoring defense last season at 75.3 ppg, and that led to the firing of Keno Davis and the hiring of Cooley. They've improved defensively (allowing 68.7 ppg, 224th in the country, and holding foes to 41.8 percent shooting, 111th in the country.) PC is averaging 69.6 ppg, 134th in the country, and shooting 36.9 percent on treys, 52nd in the country. They are blocking 5.3 shots a game (16th in the country) but have a turnover margin of minus-1.4, 263rd in the country.
UofL and Providence have met 17 times, with the Cards holding an 11-6 advantage.