Providence will try to build on a solid showing against the nation’s best defensive team and avoid looking too far ahead when it hosts New Hampshire on Wednesday. The Friars were within six points midway through the second half against unbeaten Virginia on Saturday before falling 63-52 in the Emerald Coast Classic, scoring the most points against the vaunted Cavaliers this season.
Jalen Lindsey emerged from a slump to score a season-high 18 points for Providence, which hosts No. 25 Rhode Island in a much-anticipated in-state clash Saturday afternoon. The Friars have been playing some outstanding defense of their own and entered the week tied for eighth in the nation in points allowed (57.7) and 18th in 3-point defense (26.4 percent). That might not bode well for the Wildcats, who ranked 316th in scoring (65.2) and 278th from beyond the arc (31.2 percent). Despite those numbers, they have already picked up a win at Temple and are coming off a 65-60 victory at Winthrop behind 22 points and 14 rebounds from star forward Tanner Leissner.
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ABOUT NEW HAMPSHIRE (4-2): Leissner is averaging a double-double with 17.3 points and 10.5 rebounds while making 26-of-32 free throws. He is supported by Jaleen Smith, who ranks second on the team in scoring (15.7) and rebounding (8.8) and leads the way with 4.3 assists and one steal per game. The Wildcats could use a little more from junior transfer Jordan Reed, who has made 9-of-37 shots after missing all 11 of his attempts from the field with Rice two seasons ago.
ABOUT PROVIDENCE (4-2): While the Friars gave Virginia a test, only four players actually scored for Ed Cooley’s team, with Rodney Bullock (16 points), Emmitt Holt (11) and Kyron Cartwright (seven) helping out Lindsey. The team made eight of its 16 3-point tries but was 7-of-24 inside the arc. Bullock leads the way with 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds while Cartwright began the week ranked third in the nation with an average of 8.2 assists.
1. Providence owns a 14-1 series advantage and has won 12 straight since New Hampshire won its only meeting in 1930.
2. Smith needs 15 points to reach 1,000 for his career.
3. Bullock is 3-of-15 from long distance in his last four games after opening the season by going 8-of-14 in the first two contests.
PREDICTION: Providence 72, New Hampshire 58