Providence, RI (SportsNetwork.com) - With three games remaining in the regular season, the 25th-ranked Providence Friars will try to improve their postseason resume' as they host the Marquette Golden Eagles in a Big East Conference clash at the Dunkin' Donuts Center on Sunday afternoon.
Providence will have to bounce back from a disastrous 89-61 loss to Villanova, which occupies the top spot in the Big East standings. Four games out of first place, the Friars, who are 9-6 in conference, can still improve their postseason lot as they attempt to secure double-digit league wins.
Marquette, which sits at 3-12 against Big East competition, finds itself in the league basement. The Golden Eagles will try to recover from four consecutive losses, which features a 73-52 defeat at the hands of Butler as the most recent defeat. On the road this year, Marquette is just 1-8.
This will be the 20th all-time meeting between Providence and Marquette, with the Golden Eagles owning a 14-5 series advantage. The two sides clashed back on Jan. 3, with Marquette taking a 75-66 victory at home.
Marquette did a fantastic job of hanging with Butler on Wednesday in the opening half, as the Golden Eagles connected on 59.1 percent of their shots from the floor and trailed the hometown Bulldogs by seven at intermission. But a dud of a second half saw the Eagles shoot a mere 38.9 percent, with an 0- of-5 mark from 3-point range, as the hosts easily pulled away. Luke Fischer netted 17 points to pace Marquette in the loss, while Matt Carlino chipped in 10 off the bench and Duane Wilson added 10 of his own. The Golden Eagles allowed Butler to shoot 50.9 percent from the floor in the game.
Carlino, who is coming off an injury, doesn't have much time to get back to full form. The BYU transfer is netting a team-leading 14.3 ppg this season on 40.7 percent shooting. He needs to be effective for Marquette to have success on offense. Wilson (12.3 ppg) and Fischer (10.8 ppg) level off a trio of double-digit scorers for the Golden Eagles on the year. As a collective unit, Marquette is netting 66.0 ppg on 44.1 percent shooting from the field, but defensively the team has struggled to contain opponents. The Eagles are surrendering 67.1 ppg on 42.8 percent shooting, and have really had a tough time on the boards, as they are being outrebounded by an average of five boards per game.
Villanova put on an offensive display against Providence on Tuesday. The Friars allowed the Wildcats to take a nine-point lead at halftime, then score 55 second-half points behind 71.4 percent shooting, which included a 9-of-14 effort from 3-point range. Providence shot a healthy 44.8 percent in the game, but only made 3-of-10 from beyond the arc and 6-of-12 at the free-throw line. Tyler Harris came off the bench to net a team-high 18 points for the Friars, while LaDontae Henton and Kyron Cartwright each tallied 12 points in defeat. Kris Dunn dished out seven assists for Providence, but turned the ball over six times and shot just 2-of-10 from the floor.
Henton still owns a scoring average over 20 points per outing, leading both the Friars and the Big East Conference with 20.3 ppg, shooting 45.5 percent from the floor. The big man has returned to the team's top spot in terms of rebounding (5.9 rpg), just ahead of the point guard Dunn (5.7 rpg). While Henton is the top scorer for the Friars, Dunn has been particularly steady this season as well, averaging 15.1 ppg with a team- and conference-best 7.4 apg and league-leading 2.8 spg. Harris rounds out a trio of double-digit scorers for the Friars with 10.3 ppg. As a group, Providence is netting 70.1 ppg on 44.7 percent shooting, while limiting foes to 65.8 ppg.