NCAAB: No. 22 Providence limps home to face DePaul


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Perhaps a return home, where it hasn’t lost to an unranked opponent in nearly two years, can help Providence end its current rough stretch.

The No. 22 Friars will try to avoid a season-high third straight loss Saturday in Rhode Island against DePaul, which looks to upset a second consecutive Big East opponent.

Providence (14-5, 6-2) won nine straight, including its first six league contests, then ran into trouble on the road. The Friars fell 73-67 at Creighton last weekend, then lost 83-75 at No. 20 Marquette on Wednesday.

The latter marked the second time in three games Providence allowed at least 80 points. It shot 47.5 percent but went just 4-for-18 from 3-point range and yielded 52.7 percent shooting to the Golden Eagles.

The Friars haven’t dropped three in a row since Jan. 30 to Feb. 6, 2021.

“We’ll learn from this,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “We are coming home for a homestand of two games. It’s going to be very important we get everybody in our city to support these men.”

The Friars have averaged 85.5 points and shot 49.1 percent while going 10-0 at home this season. Dating to last season, they’ve won 12 in a row at home, and they are 24-0 there against unranked teams since losing 92-81 to St. John’s on Feb. 6, 2021.

Providence opened 2023 with a 74-59 victory at DePaul on Jan. 1. Devin Carter had 22 points, five steals and four blocks, while Jared Bynum scored 18 and Bryce Hopkins added 12 with eight rebounds for the Friars, who shot 48.0 percent and held the Blue Demons to 35.1 percent shooting.

DePaul (9-10, 3-5) has lost five consecutive road games but comes in with momentum after Wednesday’s 73-72 home win over No. 8 Xavier.

Oklahoma transfer Umoja Gibson had 22 points and Javan Johnson scored 16 as the Blue Demons held Xavier to 38.0 percent shooting and beat a top-10 team for the first time in three years.

“This is what it can be at DePaul,” Blue Demons coach Tony Stubblefield said. “If we stick together, we’re good enough … And (we) continue to get better. This what we’re supposed to do. This is the reason I came here. This should be the norm.”

Johnson and Gibson were held to a combined 21 points against the Friars earlier this month. Da’Sean Nelson, who averages 10.4 points, scored 10 on Wednesday and a team-high 17 versus Providence on New Year’s Day.

Hopkins, who hails from the Chicago area, leads Providence with 16.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Johnson paces DePaul with 15.7 points and Gibson averages 15.3 points, plus team highs in 5.1 assists and 2.2 steals.

The Blue Demons have lost four in a row at Providence, but the last two meetings there — in December 2020 and February 2022 — ended in double-overtime and overtime, respectively.

DePaul has won just four of its last 32 road games in the Big East.

–Field Level Media


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