Providence has gotten the better of longtime rival Rhode Island over the years and the Friars are streaking into this year’s matchup against the host Rams on Saturday. Following a championship in the 2K Classic in Madison Square Garden, a buzzer-beating win over Belmont and an impressive 20-point triumph over Boston College, Providence outlasted a high-scoring Rider team 88-84 on Wednesday for its fifth straight victory.
Rodney Bullock scored 23 points as the Friars survived a wild second half that produced a total of 100 points. “First and foremost, I‘m happy we won the game,” Friars coach Ed Cooley told reporters. “Sometimes you play like that and lose so it’s a credit to our guys to win the basketball game. I thought we did a lot of things bad.” Cooley knows his team needs to clean up a few areas against a Rams squad that recently knocked off then-No. 22 Seton Hall and is coming off a 24-point rout of Brown. Freshman Fatts Russell scored a career-high 20 points in the 86-62 victory for Rhode Island, which has dropped seven in a row against the Friars and was knocked from the national rankings with a three-point home loss in last season’s matchup, the 127th between the teams.
TV: 5 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
ABOUT PROVIDENCE (6-1): While giving up 53 points at home in the second half to a MAAC team could be cause for concern, the Friars took comfort in another solid offensive showing. “We’re making the right plays,” point guard Kyron Cartwright told reporters after handing out seven assists against Rider. “This team is really unselfish. We’ve always shot the ball really well since I’ve been here. This year our shot selection has gotten much better.” Bullock (team-leading 15 points per game), Cartwright (12.3, team-high seven assists per game) and Jalen Lindsey (8.3 points, team-high 1.2 steals) have combined to make 38-of-73 3-pointers for the nation’s third-best team from beyond the arc (47 percent).
ABOUT RHODE ISLAND (4-2): Senior Jared Terrell leads four double-digit scorers with 19 points per game after producing 16 and a season-high three steals versus Brown. Russell hit 5-of-6 3-pointers in his breakout performance and fellow guard Jeff Dowtin set one season high with 14 points and matched another with six rebounds. “We’ve been telling Jeff from the start to be aggressive,” Terrell told the Providence Journal. “It took a couple of games for him to get into that mode, but he showed it today. And Fatts is always in attack mode.”
1. Cartwright, who had 19 points and eight assists in last season’s encounter, needs one assist to become the seventh Friar to record 500 for his career.
2. Rams G Stanford Robinson is 7-for-8 from the field over the last two games and entered Thursday ranked fifth in the country with 3.2 steals per game.
3. Providence F Emmitt Holt, who was second on the team in scoring and rebounding in 2016-17, had yet to play in 2017-18 due to an abdominal injury and the team announced Wednesday that he would miss the remainder of the season.
PREDICTION: Providence 74, Rhode Island 70